The Cross has been made small. We have reduced it to a piece of jewellery to hang around our necks. We have reduced it to a the symbol of Church power – Christ the King complete with solid gold altar crosses. We have reduced it to a dogmatic totem that speaks of the need to appease an angry God complete with gory sound-bites: ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’ or ‘paying the price of sin’. We have reduced it to the poetry of the hymn writer, evocative but disengaged.
And yet, as we approach Good Friday I want to re-claim the Cross. Like many radical and liberal Christians I have often shied away from the Cross. Perhaps because of the way it has been appropriated to assuage the anger of a bitter God demanding a sacrifice to make everything OK. And yet when radical Christians avoid the Cross or file it under history we run away from the most revolutionary commitment ever made to loving solidarity.
I want to re-claim a 2013 Cross that speaks of the brotherhood/sisterhood of God in the body of a young teacher from Palestine. The theologian Jurgen Moltmann suggests to us that God dies with us and alongside us (not for us in the traditional paying the price for sin kind of way). This Cross is a physical reminder of God’s bias to the oppressed – to all who are marginalised, oppressed and shut out.
Look around you at the city where you live and you will see countless urban crucifixions this Easter. Children, women and men crucified – the detained asylum seeker, the man weeping because he is drowning in debt and cannot find a job, the woman whose Church says God does not want her to be a Bishop or a Priest, the Muslim child bullied and called Osama at school, the well qualified young black man who is told there is no job even though it is later offered to a less qualified white person…..We see the Cross around about us…..God Crucified again and again – for love and out of solidarity not to pay the price for cosmic sin!
Glide Memorial United Methodist Church sits in the heart of the Tenderloin – the poorest ghetto in San Francisco. It’s a Church I know well – Back in the early 1960s in the heat of the Civil Rights struggle Cecil Williams arrived at Glide as the new Minister. Within a couple of weeks Williams angered and shocked the suburban congregation when he took down the huge wooden Cross in the sanctuary saying – ‘We do not worship the Cross. WE ARE THE CROSS!’ Live it, fell it, preach it, act it……
Good Friday as the day of loving revolution – a day of solidarity. What are we called to do in response?