Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Message about the Cross is Foolishness!

A couple of recent events have gotten me thinking about the cross.

The first is the reported removal of the two large crosses on our old building, which is in the process of being sold. A Buddhist community is buying it, so, of course, they have taken down the crosses. There were just two left--we took all the ones that weren't nailed down (no very bad pun intended). There was one on the outside of the building, which couldn't be seen most of the summer, because of the trees planted ever-so-close to the building. The other was a really nice one, built to match the altar rail, on the front wall of the sanctuary. Some of my members wanted to take that one down and bring it with us when we moved. I advocated leaving it there, since it was built for the space (and probably wouldn't fit in our storage unit).

Now I feel bad. Very bad--pit of the stomach bad. I wish we'd have figured out how to take it out, and while we're at it, the altar rail too. Why not?

It's probably a moot point, but I really liked that cross, and its architechtural link to the rail at which we knelt to receive the body and blood of Christ. I actually didn't notice the tie-in at first, and thought it was the coolest thing ever when someone pointed it out. (Yes, I am observant, aren't I?) It makes me sad that no one will have the experience of kneeling at that rail before that cross now.

The other thing that has me thinking about crosses is that I went to a play at a church of a denomination I won't name, in a place I also won't name (so as to avoid the impression of picking on either Presbyterians or people who live in Johnson County, since this isn't about either of those things). There was a video screen in the sanctuary in which the play was held, which was obviously operated remotely, because it went down--closed--as the show began. But here's the thing: when it's up, it covers about half of the cross on the wall.

I don't have a "screen thing." I know some people believe screens have no place in worship, and they are welcome to think that. But I think it can be helpful to have the words to hymns projected during worship. It's surely better than singing with your chin on your chest reading from a book in your hand. And when it's done well, it can also be helpful to have well-chosen, thoughtful images projected during the sermon or meditation time.

But I would have to draw the line at a screen which covers the cross, even partially. Were I a member of that church, I would have been part of the contingent of folks (for surely there was such a contingent) who thought that was a bad idea.

There are a lot of worship spaces these days which don't even have crosses. There are a lot of people these days who think that the cross is a grotesque symbol. We've all heard the old saw about how "you wouldn't wear an electric chair on a chain around your neck."

But the salvation of the world was accomplished on the cross. And while that may seem like foolishness, as St. Paul asserted it would almost two thousand years ago--it is actually the height and depth of God's wisdom, as St. Paul also asserted. Yes, I'm liking Paul again today--been doing a lot of that lately.

The cross should be at the center of our worship, and at the center of our lives. Wear it around your neck if you want. More importantly, kneel before it and give thanks to God, who is faithful and just, and who chose to become human in order that we might be saved. That may be foolishness, but I'm pretty grateful for it.

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