Thursday, July 30, 2015

What does that Cross mean?

   We are United Methodist, the largest denomination or branch within the group of Wesleyan churches within Christianity. There are approximately 75 million Wesleyans in the world today: United Methodist, Free Methodist, Salvation Army, African Methodist Episcopal, Nazarenes, AME Zion, CME, etc. Each traces their roots back to the Rev. John Wesley, a priest in England who formed the movement that would later bear his name.
   One of the distinctive characteristics to being a Methodist or Wesleyan is that we (or we are supposed to) build our lives and our church upon a specific foundation of truths. Another way of saying it would be that what we do, what we say, and how we pattern our lives is based on four critical sources: Scripture, the tradition of the church, reason, and our experience. We believe the primary source by which God uses for our direction is that of God's Word, contained in the Holy Bible, and the other three support it. All of this leads up to answer the valid question, "Why does a Cross hang in our Sanctuary?"
   Scripture - All four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus explicitly mention the Roman execution device upon which Jesus died. Jesus used the cross as a symbol of what it means to follow him when he said, ""If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." The Apostle Paul would later write that the cross was evidence of Jesus' humility and obedience and was the very method that we receive reconciliation back to God, and that upon the cross we were to nail our self-centered desires (Galatians 5:24).
   Church Tradition - From the earliest times, the church adopted the cross as a symbol to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. History shows that one early church Bishop, Clement of Alexandria, who lived in the second century, regularly used the phrase the Lord's sign to mean the cross. In the third century, one leader believed she found remnants of the very cross that Jesus died upon; pieces of it soon traveled Europe to be included in sanctuaries there.
   Human Reason -  Symbols are important ways that we draw meaning and are reminded of matters of importance; the cross is no different.
   Our Experience - The cross, mounted in front of us, reminds us of sacrifice and the grace of God. For me and many others, it carries a deep and abiding sense of God's overwhelming love for all of us. It is both a thing of the past and a call to live faithfully into future.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post. For more on John Wesley and early Methodism, I would like to invite you to the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of Francis Asbury, the young protégé of John Wesley and George Whitefield, opens with the book, Black Country. The opening novel in this three-book series details the amazing movement of Wesley and Whitefield in England and Ireland as well as its life-changing effect on a Great Britain sadly in need of transformation. Black Country also details the Wesleyan movement's effect on the future leader of Christianity in the American colonies, Francis Asbury. The website for the book series is Again, thank you, for the post.