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Saturday, May 9, 2020
Hast thou not bid us love thee, God and King;
all, all thine own, soul, heart, and strength, and mind?
I see thy cross; there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek thee, and O let me find!
“Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart” (v. 3) by George Croly
Hymn 688, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
Have you ever pondered why the cross is a primary symbol of Christianity? Of course Jesus’ death is an infinitely pivotal event in our history and theology, but the cross as a symbol didn’t become ubiquitous until a few centuries after Jesus walked the earth, when Constantine made it mainstream. When I reflect on it, it is frankly a bit odd to fixate so much on a device solely intended for execution. If Jesus had been killed by hanging, would we be wearing little nooses on necklaces instead?
I’m probing this in a mostly rhetorical fashion, in response to George Croly’s emphasis on the cross in today’s selected lyrics. The source hymn is said to be a reflection on Galatians 5:25 (“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit”). I thoroughly grasp the foundational importance of Jesus’ crucifixion in our faith. But if Croly wants to help us depend more fully on the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we sing, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something else we should “cling” to as well.
Jesus’ death is most powerful when it is inextricably paired with his resurrection. Many leaders have died sacrificial deaths, but only one came back again. When I’m feeling lost or weary, I’m revitalized by centering on the privilege of sharing Jesus’ resurrection through baptism. Through Christ we have new life and life abundant. Remembering that helps me love God with everything I have. Now I just have to figure out how to portray an empty tomb on a necklace.
Holy Spirit, deepen my awareness of your presence by reminding me of the new life I share with the resurrected Jesus. Help me love you and love others by relying on the living Christ above all. Amen.
Written by Michael Mirza, Director of Worship
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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