The Wondrous Cross

The Wondrous Cross 22x28 676The subject of the Cross is arguably the most controlling image of the Christian experience; it is recognizable worldwide for its association with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, believed by Christians to be his redeeming and reconciling death for the world. We continue to probe the meaning of the Cross for us, to see it for what it is: transcendent mystery, glorious and wondrous, awesome and tragic. It is difficult to fathom the power of the Cross, even on its surface. God the Son becomes a human being in order to restore creation and humankind from the terrible acts of the fall. Through his humiliation, suffering, and death, the ground is laid for the refreshment, redemption, and restoration of the entire world and all humankind. What a spiritual feast awaits those who spend time surveying the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of glory dies!

In the history of the Christian Church, no other story, no other event, no other symbol has been so integral and definitive to our faith, devotion, and worship as the Cross. Over the centuries this visual representation of the Tree on which our Savior died for the sins of the world has become arguably Christianity’s signature and primary image. This year, we will explore not only the bare facts (as listed above) but also explore the larger sense of what it means for the redeemed to be identified with Jesus in his suffering and death, and in his resurrection and new life. Indeed, both the start and continuation of Christian discipleship (from our confession of faith and baptism, to carrying our Cross daily and following our Master), depend on our understanding and appropriating the power of the Cross in our lives. This is why Paul the apostle can center his gospel ministry on the proclamation of the Cross to his various audiences: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2.2.).

Our spiritual journey concentrates on the Cross, and our various resources provide ways to learn and live in the way of Calvary. In the things we read, in the way we pray and retreat, and in all our spiritual disciplines, we will highlight how the Cross has become shorthand for the Christ event, a kind of symbolic summary of the central and controlling truth of the incarnation and the victory over sin, Satan, death, and evil. Throughout both the Calendar and this Annual we cover the various themes of the Church Year through the varied lenses of the Cross, anchored to the major events of Jesus’ life. In a real sense, the Cross is the climax and purpose of the incarnation, and the power and wisdom of God, as this year’s theme verse suggests: “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, [24] but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1.18).