Thursday, July 30, 2015
What does that Cross mean?
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