“The storm ceased and there was great calm. Then Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?’”
Mark 4: 39 - 41
If you enter our church between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday you'll see a very different image above the altar. Instead of the cross with the image of the Crucified Christ, beaten and broken and in the arms of death, you'll see the Risen Christ, triumphant and ascending in all his glory.
For many years I preferred that image of the Risen Christ. I wished that we would keep it up there all year long. But as I grew in my faith I came to see and appreciate the powerful message of the cross.
It tells us that we are not alone; that God is by our side through every storm, just like he was for his friends in the boat in Sunday’s Gospel. And yet, like those friends, we sometimes get terrified and our faith is tested.
Some times life doesn’t make sense. There is chaos, there is darkness; bad things, inexplicable things happen. As an individual, as a family, maybe even as a parish community, we suffer great losses, deep wounds, even contradictions to our faith. The symbol of our Christian faith is itself a contradiction: the cross, two opposing beams of wood made from the tree of life, yet used to torture and destroy life. And in the center of the contradiction, we find God in human form.
But the message of the cross is hope. It tells us that we are not alone; that God is with us in the chaos and the darkness; he is present in the pain, the loss, the suffering; he is there at the center of the contradiction, at the center of the cross.
And some day once we are free of the constraints of human existence and the limits of human understanding, it will all make sense. There will be no more loss, no more wounds, no more contradictions; just God’s love for all eternity.
The cross with the image of the Crucified Christ is a love letter from God. As we go through the storms of life, let us keep reading that love letter and listening to the message it contains. With the cross God is saying to us:
“I am with you in the chaos and the darkness.
I am here at the center of your cross.
I love you and am with you for always.”
Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:
Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministry