Crosses – we wear them around our necks, we put them on t-shirts, we colour them in with crayons, stitch them into quilts, and adorn our churches and homes with them.
These are some very peculiar uses for a thing that was originally an instrument of punishment, torture and death. But crosses were more than just instruments, they were symbols, to bring about submission by instilling fear and terror in others.
So, it is nothing short of a Divine miracle, I think, that the cross has gone through such a transformation of meaning. That the very symbolism has been redeemed. That the population that it was meant to shame, to intimidate, to bring low, instead lifted it up, claiming it to such an extent that it has instead become a symbol of hope, and life, and light.
However, once again the cross for many people has become a negative symbol, for some very good reasons. The cross has been used as a weapon against people, and has come to represent all that is wrong with Christianity and organized religion. For many it stands for closed-mindedness, hate, fear, prejudice, pain and oppression – not so different from its original meaning.
Can this symbol be redeemed again? Is a miracle possible here? Could the cross be re-claimed so that it can once again become a symbol of acceptance, and openness, and light, and love and hope? I believe.
However, it begins with us, with God’s help, lifting high the cross with our very selves – living a cruciform life – a life of peace, of forgiveness, and of sacrificial love.
Thanks be to God!