So after the Good Friday service we had to move the 15 foot wooden cross from the sanctuary to the Fellowship Hall. The man who made the cross created it such that it comes apart for storage and "handling." Did you ever think about how you handle a cross?
Anyway we used it for the Friday evening service so that all who wished could come to the foot of the cross and kneel. To look up at a 15 foot cross with black cloth hanging over the nails where hands would have been causes one to pause. I read what is called "the Reproaches," which are a set of accusations from God and Jesus about "why in the heck did you do this to me?"
We tend to think of Jesus "having to die" but we make all this too religious, too quick. I believe Jesus had a choice or it was not love that died on the cross but obligation. As a child I used to think, "Why couldn't Jesus have lived for our sins rather than die for our sins?" He tried you know.
He offered a way of life that could have changed everything. O sure it was and is a very radical way of life that accepts everybody no matter what stripe they are or religion they are or what sexual orientation they have on their sweatshirt, or if they are legal or illegal. But folks did and do have trouble with this kind of acceptance. We put limits on our love and then frame those limits with religious sounding rhetoric.
Jesus talked about living by the sword and dying by it. His first legislation offered on gun control got him shot...well it got him beat up and nailed to a cross. I'm not sure how tall his cross was. It was probably not 15 feet. They did not waste that much wood back then on the likes of crazy kings.
Jesus offered a kind of peace that the world cannot give and does not seem to want. We think it is weak and foolish. O we do not say that especially in church but we act it out in our lives and in our legislation. We want to make sure that we have our rights to arms, our rights to citizenship, our rights to our own health care, and our rights to make sure we are secure.
Jesus never talked about individual rights. He broke open every one's closed concept of community. His own disciples did not like how open the party was. They had their own invitation list. They spent a good deal of time trying to figure out Mohammad Ali's famous question, "Who is the greatest?"
Jesus offered a way of life that turns over most all of our established tables. They got rid of him by using that smaller cross. We get rid of him by burying him with religious terms or ignoring his way and substituting religion about Jesus for the religion of Jesus.
So it took five of us to carry that 15 foot cross. It was quite a scene. We could barely get it through the church doors because we did not want to go the trouble of taking it apart so we moved it as if it was not marked, "Assembly Required." We slowly lifted it up and stood it in a place where they tell me that certain artistic angels will come in the night and hang hundreds of butterflies on it. No more black cloth. It's time for butterflies.
So this Easter know that his cross is heavy. It takes work. He hangs up there today to vividly remind us that living his way costs him and if we try it, it will cost us. "Pick up your cross and follow me," he once said. We wrote hymns about that but if we try it the world will change. People will still think to live like Jesus asked us to live will be unreal and foolish. Well read the story. I do not know about you but I've sold him out and betrayed him by cashing in my 30 pieces of silver for a comfortable, nice, safe, religious life.
Forgive me Jesus. Help me to take a chance on your way. Your cross got my attention.