After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.
~ John 19:38
This morning as I write my blog there is a group of men outside my dining room window trimming our trees, and it suddenly caused my mind to journey to the cross. It always happens about this time of year during Lent. At some point I begin to think of the cross that Christ would parade through the streets while carrying it on his back. The beatings, the pain, the thorny crown, and his sweat and blood pouring from his body as he makes his way to a hill, where the cross that he has carried, will then hold him until he releases his last breath. The same cross where Christ will cry out, asking why God has abandoned him, only to then proclaim, "Into Your hands I commend my spirit."
The cross is the symbol of daunting circumstances, as well as, a place where chapters end and new ones begin.
I think of the person who first looked at the tree that would serve as the symbol of the Christian faith for centuries to come. Did children sit beneath the shade of the tree where a man would pronounce "It is finished?"
Where did it grow? Was it among a great forest, or a lonesome tree left by the side of the road?
I think of the hands that cut the tree down, removed branches, and began the task of "squaring up" that which used to be round. With each slice, years of growth, seasons of weather, wind and rain, sun and moon fell away.
And then, I think of the person who fashioned the pieces into a cross. Was the person a slave? A free person, perhaps with a son, who was teaching the skills of a carpenter? How ironic.
I wonder if Jesus, when he first saw these pieces of timber fashioned into the cross he would parade through the city, carrying it upon his shoulder, did he give thought to the quality and craftsmanship that someone who was raised by a carpenter might note?
As Christ carried it through the streets, did it smell of fresh-cut wood?
While Jesus healed the paralytic, he commanded the man to "take up his mat and walk."
He now was commanded to take up THIS cross and walk.
With each step, he became more like the cross he carried. Layers of seasons, the experiences of life, fell to the ground with each drop of blood, like the sawdust of the cross while it was being made into something else.
To imagine the cross, is to imagine ourselves. While we make a conscious decision to carry Christ with us, Christ in His omnipotent presence, is always carrying us. We are the undeniable presence upon the shoulders of a God who loves us unto eternity.
As we begin our walk this day, we have already been lifted into the arms of God and are being carried.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019it
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.