There has always been a strangeness to me that one of the central events to our faith is one that is both grim and horrifying; the crucifixion. Of course, in the “polite society” of our protestant churches we have removed the unsettling image of Jesus on the cross leaving it empty to remind us that crucifixion was not the end of the story. We’ve taken the instrument of pain and softened it with fine woodwork, intricate carvings, or layers of precious metals to allow it to beautify our sanctuaries.
But the cross is the cross. Much of it’s story is not pretty. Though salvation came as a result, it’s horror was not the detailed plan of God but rather the result of humanity’s freewill that allows for us to bring the worst cruelties upon others. Jesus received not a punishment, but humanity at its worst casting all the evil, pain, and hurt it could throw at the love he was trying to teach.
Tonight, I have fashioned a cross. Rather than gilding with ornaments, I have taken images of the crucifixion throughout time and attached them to the very cross itself. As you look at various interpretations of the suffering of Jesus, may you be reminded that even humanity at its worst could not overcome the saving power of God’s overflowing love. God’s love that gave himself to us and defeated even the cruelty of the cross.