I was recently at SXSW a conference down in Texas, the very Christian South of the USA. I was in the back of the car travelling home after a long day with some friends and we passed church with a a large cross standing outside it. Someone said, ‘It’s pretty strange that a religion would take a horrific act and use it as their main symbol.’ Unfortunately this is not a post about how I explained exactly why Christians use the cross as their symbol and my friend became a convert overwhelmed by the understanding of what the cross means. Sorry. But this is what I should have said.
Yes, the cross is a strange symbol for a religion to use. It’s strange if your view of God/the divine is that they should be holy, perfect, removed from the world, golden and magnificent. But not if you also view God as so holy as to be outside our understanding, so perfect that he could not leave us alone in our suffering, so removed from the world that he built a bridge back to it through his only son, so magnificent that she can and does use the rejected, the hideous, the broken, the humble to work in the world.
Good Friday brings us the cross and ultimately the cross is about hope. The hope that God not only reaches out to us but is prepared to pay the price to bring us back. Hope that God can do things in the world and does work things in the world through the beaten, the underdog, the victim. That it is these people, not the rich, the powerful, the wealthy who are close to her heart.
It is easy to read the world and let hopelessness eat away at you. I realised only tonight how my disappointments with myself and with the Church combined with my disbelief at the way humans treat each other and abuse each other, has been eating away at my ability to hope for better. It’s been eating away at my ability to see the good in the day-to-day low grade goodness of a handshake and a door held open and the love of fathers for their children and friends for each other.
Good Friday is the promise that even in the hardest circumstance, the most ridiculous solution there is always some hope. We have to keep hoping otherwise we will lose our ability to make the small part of the world that we have been given a better place. Hope takes effort of will. We can’t change the world but we can change a bit of it if we are able hope that by doing that we are working towards something good.