Dear friends in faith,
“Photography as a Spiritual Practice” is the fascinating study that Vince Zanzucchi and
Gregg Dana have been leading on Sunday mornings this year. People with cell phones
have been taking photos of food, nature, and most prominently, crosses. It’s been
remarkable how many crosses show up in trees, in windows and doors, and almost
anywhere the attentive eye casts a glance.
When you think about it, the cross is a most unlikely symbol for a faith that encourages
others to join the cause. Despite the artistic skills of the jeweler, that’s still a first-century
means of execution you’re wearing around your neck. We Protestants can say that,
unlike the crucifix of our Catholic friends, our cross is empty, signifying resurrection, but
even that doesn’t erase the obvious truth that the cross is a sign of suffering and death.
No advertising executive would even consider an image with such dark connotations.
And yet… that is what gives the cross its power. If we take the cross seriously, then
Christian faith can never be a pie in the sky, pollyanna belief that offers an escape
from sorrow or relief from life’s trials. The symbol of Christianity can never be a “smiley
face.” Instead, Christ embraces the darkness of the world and of the human heart in the
crucifixion, and in so doing, Christ embraces us. Only as we understand this does the
cross become a sign, ultimately, of love.
This year’s Lenten sermon series takes its theme from the hymn When I Survey the
Wondrous Cross. and then explores a number of dimensions of what it means that
the One in whom the fullness of God came to dwell (John 1) gave up his life for ours
on the cross. We often hear that “Jesus died for my sins,” yet that is only one way to
describe the love of God that we see with such clarity – such awful clarity – such
awe-full clarity – in the cross of Christ.
I invite you to listen, to pray, and to reflect on what the cross of Christ means to you. If
you do, you’re likely to discover that the cross shows up almost anywhere the attentive
eye casts a glance.
PS: I encourage you to be part of this year’s Lenten study The Life You’ve Always
Wanted. Come to the sanctuary at 9:15 a.m. every Sunday morning beginning March 9
and watch the ten minute video from John Ortberg, an outstanding guide for the spiritual
life. Then we’ll break up into small groups in various places in the church to discuss his
words (or if you prefer, return to the chairs in Fellowship Hall or your duties in the kitchen).
It’s one way to feed your spirit during this holy season.