There's an episode of Family Guy where Mort Goldman comes over to Peter Griffin's house and asks to borrow a crucifix, as Mort says, "Preferably one without the little fellow on it."
Doesn't that sound like the Lenten season? Lent is dark and messy, we don't like the image of Jesus on the cross because ultimately it's not a Jesus easy to imagine with our holy imagination. Though Family Guy is a hilarious comedy, it has a point, we like the cross without Jesus.
Western society has done an incredible job of taking the cross and making it into something it's not. Whether we attribute it to taboos, culture, or a lack of education, we view the cross very differently than the earliest Christians viewed it. As Mary Button says, "We can only begin to understand the meaning of the crucifixion when we take away our polished and shiny crosses and try to locate the cross in our own time, and in our own landscape."
The meaning of the crucifixion is this: We threw the worst we could at Jesus, capital punishment in the vilest form, and God brought about Easter morning. Throughout all of human history we've done a pretty good job of silencing the hope, justice and grace extended to us by our Creator. The cross stands as a reminder that there is nothing that can't be accomplished by the God of the resurrection.
So this Lenten season, let's be living reminders that the cross does not have the final say. That atonement is accomplished by the glory of the incarnation and the resurrection, the cross tried to get in the way but God worked through the reality of the cross to bring about life. From death came life, from finite time, eternity was born. Remember that the cross is more than a necklace, a pretty ornate object that we bow to in church, or a means of propaganda. The cross is a reminder of the darkness of human ignorance but more importantly the glory of God's victory over death.
Perhaps now, you can let Jesus be on the cross, you can let him stay in the grips of death because it shows that God experienced all that we could possibly experience. However let's not leave him there. Let our lives be living reminders that the resurrection happens after a cross.
When I was younger my brother and I had Lenten figurines that represented the cross and the tomb. Jesus was fixed to the cross, but to my little brother's dismay, you couldn't get Jesus off of the cross for Easter. My little brother said that he wanted a "walking around Jesus" so my parents searched until they found a figure that matched our set that had Jesus walking around.
Ultimately the point of Lent is this: It is transient, the cross is transient and the hope of the coming Easter is that Jesus will walk around once more. May we be prepared for all that's in store. Thanks be to God.
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