Today in much of the Christian world we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
The Cross is the sign of our redemption but all too often we reduce the cross to a minor pain or discomfort, something disagreeable that disturbs our normal routine.
This morning I came across this story I love about Clarence Jordan, a Baptist preacher and farmer, who founded Koinonia Farm, an interracial community, in Georgia in the 1950s. He also authored the “Cotton Patch” translation of parts of the New Testament that placed Jesus in Georgia.
Clarence Jordan was getting a red-carpet tour of another minister’s church. With pride the minister pointed to the rich, imported pews and luxurious decorations. As they stepped outside, darkness was falling, and a spotlight shone on a huge cross atop the steeple.
“That cross alone cost us ten thousand dollars,” the minister said with a satisfied smile.
“You got cheated,” said Jordan. “Times were when Christians could get them for free.”
Jordan was, presumably, thinking of the martyrs of the early church who died for their faith.
But today I am thinking of other martyrdoms.
In 1597, Christians, priests and laity, were crucified in Nagasaki, Japan.
In the 1980s, some activist Christians were crucified by the Guatemalan army.
Today, Christians are being crucified by ISIS.
But it seems all too easy to be a Christian in many parts of the world. We often forget the radical commitment of Christ with the poor and with all the suffering, His radical love which embraced the world, including His enemies.
Today I need to contemplate Jesus who, as Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 6-8:
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
But, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, made in human likeness;
… he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
And then I need to ask myself how I can put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2: 5).