I mean cemetaries. Aussie kids pronounce it as cemataries. I like to visit cemetaries. I am not kidding you. No, I do not go in the evenings, I go at day time. Often when I visit a country town somewhere I enjoy reading the epitaphs engraved on tombstones, whenever we happen to pass by. They tell a story, they tell of a philosophy, of hope and faith of the one burried there whatever that may be.
Lately I have been driving through one on my way to uni. The cemetery is a bit hidden by an iron fence wrapped around its perimeter, so when you drive by you see mostly crosses that stand out above the height of the fence. The crosses are what you see and focus on, some of them are tall. They do draw your attention. Well at least, they always draw mine. Can not help but looking at them as I drive.
It just got me thinking. Why did the early Christians use the Cross as the symbol of their faith? Why, it is almost like the electric chair of today? That is the place where consigned criminals perish. It is a symbol of shame. A lot of people died on the cross, yet the Christians used it to identify them of their faith.
The cross reminds us of something that happened in the past. It was not something trivial, it was something very very great, it cost God his best and his everything. It tells us that God hang his Son there for your account (and mine). We were supposed to be the one who should die a criminal's death but instead God slew his Son so he can have mercy on us. I tell you today I am filled with wonder at this. It is a great salvation and may we not neglect it is our prayer.
It is a good reminder of the Gospel, and please do not tell me I do not need to be reminded by it. I need to be reminded by it because I have a tendency not to stay on it, indeed my tendency is to move and wander away from it. That is part of my being a sinner.
The cross is the Gospel in one symbol. We do not venerate it, we run to the reality it points to - the atonement of Christ for sinners, in faith we claim it as ours because it is right down ours. His death is,... for you, for me.
Wise folk say -the Cross of Jesus is not only the start of Christian life, it is also where it ends.
Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, you finished it. Amen.