In my office at church I have a wall filed with crosses. Some are big, some are small, some metal and some wood. Some are hand-made, others a little more industrial.
When I moved into my office (2007) I had five crosses that I wanted to display, but that was too few to really know what to do with…so I went to a local craft/décor store, where there was a sale on “wall décor” (including crosses) and got the idea for a “wall of crosses” from their display…the beauty was in the way each item was a cross, but each significantly individual and unique…I purchased another five crosses to add to my collection.
Soon after, my Dad sent me two crosses that he had carved upon the occasion of me stepping into the pulpit at Central, I received a couple of “gift crosses” upon my installation and since then have received several more from weddings, etc. I’ve also started collecting a cross when I travel, if I see an interesting one. All that to say, my wall now is covered a bit and I’ll need to start moving crosses around to the next wall. It looks like I’m trying to keep vampires out of the office, at this point.
As I write, I can look up and directly at the “cross wall” and see some beautiful crosses, some crosses that have a meaning because of who gave them, or where I purchased them…but they all have an “intrinsic” value because of their own beauty.
On one hand…The cross: an implement of torturous death. Even the symbol of a cross could strike a deep and unfathomable fear in the people of Jesus’ day. This method of execution was devised as to cause as much suffering as possible, while displaying the suffering as a warning to anyone else who might think of crossing the Roman government of the time. The cross: a symbol, not only of state-sanctioned death, but state-sanctioned inhuman, horrific, torture. It is a symbol that Believers and Followers since have stared at daily without, perhaps, knowing the implications of such a symbol, or feeling the depth of terror that symbol would strike in all of our Believing and Following forebears. To think that such a symbol would be carved with such love, worn as jewelry, and decorating a Pastor’s wall is almost morbidly-idiotic.
On the other hand God, the “Spiritual Rumplestiltskin”, as I like to call Him sometimes (He “turns straw into gold”) has taken the cross and actually re-created it as a thing of beauty, goodness and truth. The mere fact that this instrument of torture and death, used on His own Son, has become a symbol for a beautiful gift of freedom and love is also unfathomable. God, who takes the chaos and makes order, takes garbage and makes jewels, takes the broken things and makes them new…God, who currently is restoring the entire world to newness and prepping it for the Age to Come has done a wonderful thing with this cross.
We often hear, “Everything happens for a reason.” Which (and I hate to burst anyone’s bubble), is not an accurate quote of scripture. Bad things are generally not something that God plans. In fact the “reason” much, if not all, of the bad things in the world happen because we’re stupid and make BAD choices. THAT’s the “reason”. What God does is take the bad and make it good. God takes the tangle that we’ve created, and at our request, creates a tapestry.
Wasn’t the evilness of the cross part of God’s “plan”? The sacrifice that needed to be made by His Son was necessary. Were the evil plans and thoughts of those who eventually led Jesus through the streets and to Golgotha all a part of God’s will? Of course not, and neither were any of those people involved mere robots or puppets without a choice. God knew, because He exists “out of time”. He could see what was GOING to happen (from our perspective of time) before it actually happened to us, and the evil became beautiful. It is God to make “all things new”. It is in His nature (and ours, for that matter) to “re-create”.
And so, I display my wall of crosses proudly. This evil thing, this wicked idea to make another human suffer the pain and humility of inhuman death has been turned, as all things that are imperfect, wicked, twisted and evil will also turn.
When I look at my wall now, I try to remember the “journey” this cross made, from something designed to torture and kill, to something that is (for me, at least) a gate to the garden.