The Cross and the Crucifix

Last night we had a ‘zoom meeting’ discussing internal alterations to our church building – practical needs, theological principles…

The church I attended as a child was plain and simple in its construction. Bare floorboards, portable benches, corrugated iron roof, outside toilets… Nothing ornate, no distractions from our focus on God.

…Today, bombarded by news, anxieties, pressures, coping with the practical and the profound we need space with no distractions…

Our church today has a cross at the front. Reminding us of Jesus death it’s an empty cross because Jesus came back to life. The resurrection brings reassurance and hope because of God’s miraculous power.

…Today we need hope; there’s a power greater than death and Covid-19; death isn’t the end…

Army chaplain Woodbine Willie rescued the wounded and encouraged the frightened in the First World War trenches. He describes stumbling over a critically injured German boy:

‘…It seemed to me that the boy disappeared and in his place there lay the Christ upon his cross… From that moment I never saw a battlefield as anything but a crucifix. From that moment on I have never seen the world as anything but a Crucifix. I see the cross in every slum, in every filthy overcrowded quarter…’

I’ve been taught that we don’t have a crucifixes because Jesus isn’t dead, he’s alive… Catholics have crucifixes …

But a crucifix shows us our God, Jesus the man, who understands suffering because he suffers for us and he suffers with us.

…Today we need to know that God understands suffering because he has been there, and is there with us in it….

As our church is refurbished I shall ask for:

  • an empty space, to meet God free from distractions.
  • an empty cross to worship the all-powerful God of hope
  • a crucifix to remember God who suffers for me and with me.

Not everybody will agree with me; I’m prepared for disappointment!

4 thoughts on “The Cross and the Crucifix

  1. For me the cross is an obscenity which is used as an ornament.

    Studdert Kennedy’s perspective that the world is on a cross is new to me and challenging.

    A cup of water in my name, etc.

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  2. Part of the quote … as he was looking at the German boy Studdart Kennedy says that ‘Christ upon his Cross cried, ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my little ones ye have done it unto me.’

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    1. Our (my?) natural instinct is to look away from the cross as it is so horrible. But that’s the point. The gospels all go into detail about Christ’s suffering. So it must be important for us to think hard about it — the stress, the agony, the abuse, the humiliation, the slow death and the forgiving heart. And remember that He calls us to suffer too as we deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him. Thank you for this very important reminder.

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