May I never boast except in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ.
The cross is sometimes a piece of jewelry, sometimes a grave marker, and sometimes a deeply meaningful religious symbol. But in ancient times the cross was an instrument of execution, a cruel and horrific instrument of torture. Crucifixion was an ancient form of execution in which a person was either tied or nailed to a wooden cross and left to hang there until dead. Death would be slow and excruciatingly painful.
In Christianity the cross is the intersection of God’s love and his justice. Christians believe, teach and confess that Jesus of Nazareth was without sin before God and man. But the religious leaders of his day were so offended and threatened by him and his teaching that they conspired with the Roman governing authorities to have Jesus killed by crucifixion. God even withdrew his presence from Jesus while on the cross. We believe, however, that this instrument of torture became a means of salvation. For Jesus’ sake God forgives the sin of the world so that, “whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, the instrument of death has become a symbol of salvation and life.
For that reason many churches have crosses that adorn their buildings, altars, liturgical vestments and walls. Whether with the corpus (a “crucifix”), or without, the cross in the Christian faith is central to what we believe.
There are crosses all across the campus of St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas. Even though I serve as pastor there, I easily overlook many of them. In fact since going public with this portfolio project I have had suggestions from various members for photos of crosses that I missed.
I hope the viewer experiences the various forms, colors, iterations, adornments, and placements of the cross by means of this portfolio, and reflects on its meaning for him or her.