This Lent, First Christian Church has been blessed with an exhibit by artist Carolyn DiGiovanni called “The Journey to the Cross.” Today, we continue to explore this exhibit by looking at another of DiGiovanni’s crosses–this one hanging from our pulpit in our sanctuary. This cross is called The Message of the Cross. Here is the cross and its corresponding meditation:
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NRSV)
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
This spare cross hints at the figure of Christ and shows the outline of his crown of thorns. It is an unadorned image of the work that was done–spare, almost, even though the style of painting leads your mind to fill in the gaps and envision Christ there. The message of the cross is a difficult one for our world to understand. It is a message of God’s weakness standing up to human power. It is a message of deep love in the face of torment and attack. It is a message of forgiveness that is undeserved and unearned. Faced with this kind of message, there is no room for bragging. As this cross is colorless and almost blank, except for the hint of a man on it, the paring down of the moment leads us to think about the essence of this gift God has given. All we have left to offer is the humble acceptance of a love that is beyond our ability to return it fully.
“See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?” Amen.
Verse taken from Chalice Hymn #195 “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross,” by Isaac Watts. Artist Carolyn DiGiovanni’s crosses will be on exhibit through March 25th, 2018 in the sanctuary of First Christian Church, Charlotte.