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cross

crossWhat does the cross mean to you?

The cross: when you see it on a landscape, a building, in church, by the side of a road; the sign of the cross when you make it on yourself, when it is made over you, over others, over an object,…?

Are there different types of crosses that mean different things to you?

This post is the fifth in a series reflecting on Christian signs, symbols, and similar (Ichthus; Chi Rho; IHS, Alpha and Omega), and I want to approach this one slightly differently. Let’s see if we can gather something of what the cross means to us. And see where we go from there. Write some of what the cross means to you in the comment space below…

This community doesn’t just gather around this website. There are different ways to keep in touch with the community: like the facebook page, follow twitter, use the RSS feed,…

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8 Responses to cross

  1. Thank you for the invitation, Bosco.

    There are different meanings for me depending on context. When I see a cross like the beautiful one in your photo, I see Christian history and perhaps feel nostalgia for a past where Christian community was stronger than now. But it doesn’t take much reflection to realise these symbols were once markers of aggressive Christian expansion around the world, often accompanied by violence. That is how I feel when I see some modern crosses that have been placed in cities in “in your face” locations. And yet, travelling in Buddhist lands, it is gratifying to see humble little shrines to Mary alongside the Buddha shrines — the equality a sign of interfaith acceptance. I guess I don’t like faith symbols to “crow”!

    Making the sign of the cross on myself is at once a recommitment to faith and a deep acknowledgement to myself of belonging within the mystery of a triune God.

  2. The cross means so many things:
    the narrow gate,
    the sign of encouragement on my way,
    my anger at Jesus on the cross for not being down there with us in the tranches fighting injustice (I know, he is down here as well as up there, but sometimes it feels he’s only up there),
    the giving of self,
    the opposite of Rambo,
    the opposite of worldly power,
    the cost of discipleship,
    an invitation to follow…

  3. Struggled a few times to express many thoughts and feelings about crosses; ended up writing something brief on your FB page, Bosco, but in the end I wrote a poem just before bed last night, your image of the old Celtic cross (above) in my mind’s eye. It’s a bit rough but here goes:

    Stone cross in a green landscape
    moss covered
    world stained
    stoic
    a sign of permanence
    – of a love that refuses to leave:

    You say,
    ‘Come here, beloved’
    And your cross(ed) arms
    are in fact open arms
    beckoning me.

    Your form is lovely
    to my eyes,
    and as your familiar shape,
    part tree, part man,
    part rock, part star,
    imprints itself
    at the back of my head
    I feel your years.

    I witness you standing there
    and my heart aches
    for those who were here
    before.
    They grew here
    green as grass
    and then faded
    and are now dust.

    And I feel
    you have more to say to me
    than ‘Come here, you are loved’,
    though this is what I want to hear.

    You say,
    ‘Open your arms like mine,
    embrace life
    embrace this mystery.’
    The embracing,
    This is what endures.

    [with love, Gillian]

  4. I am so often *cross* about Christianity lately, Ghandi once said ‘I love your Christ but I am not so convinced about your Christians’ or something in that vein.

    I’m no Ghandi but I am a committed Christian, for better or worse, culturally and spiritually.

    In fact I discovered something personally recently- it’s not even a choice I have. Having been raised this way, somewhat imperfectly, the values are ingrained.

    Selfishness, greed, cruelty…anathema to Christians…once we are exposed to the cross, symbol of Jesus’ self-sacrifice and trying to change the world. None of us are the same after. We may try to proceed business-like but life is totally changed.

    And then we get to see people like you Bosco, who have been through the refiner’s fire: knowing God chooses the best of people to demonstrate this. And yet wishing you so much less pain than you have had to bear.

    Isn’t that what compassion is? ‘I am sorry’ for another’s suffering?

    That’s what the symbol of the crucifix means to me: it’s a complete reminder of how many people sacrifice their own human condition, following Christ, and still manage to move forward with humanity.

    The cross takes us back to all that is important, even though as other people point out here it is so often used as a manipulative symbol down the ages for the exact opposite to Jesus’ wishes, materialism and cruelty.

    When I see a cross or other Christian symbol today I think ‘warning’, because it has to be filtered, goodness or badness.

    But it is goodness I choose to search out- because it is there, despite everything.

    That’s what seeing a cross means to me.

    *

    Lovely poem Gillian.

  5. Tracy, you express what I was trying rather inarticulately to express. Thank you! And thank you Bosco ( or maybe your website’s technical attributes) for enabling total strangers to share ideas, days after your initial post, and be alerted to them via email. I also loved both poems 🙂

  6. Julianne, thanks, you express yourself perfectly.
    *

    The concept of theodicy is where it comes back to: people have been convinced if they can just ‘get it right’ what to believe and do ‘how to live life’ perfectly life will be without suffering.

    That’s not true, that’s not life. That’s not this planet.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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