cross and tomb

Christians love the cross. Catholics love the crucifix. Orthodox love the double cross. Protestants love the bare cross. But Christians love the cross.

And what day does should the cross get more focus than any other? Good Friday.

But, somehow we’ve stretched Good Friday into an all year affair, like that friend who insists on celebrating his whole birth-month instead of a birthday.

Much of our preaching and singing leaves Jesus so flogged and bruised that he is more of a perpetual sacrifice to be admired than a risen and resurrected Lord to be followed.†

Thing is, two of our most well known creeds don’t give the cross much focus. They don’t explain what happens on the cross.

The Nicene Creed (the widest accepted confession of the Christian faith) confesses:

For us and for our salvation 
he [the Son of God] came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again”

It doesn’t mention what happens on the cross. It doesn’t say Jesus offers a perfect sacrifice for our sins. It doesn’t say Jesus is suffers a certain amount so a certain number of people may be saved. It merely says “For us and our salvation” and “for our sake.”

The Apostles’ Creed (more common in the Western church) doesn’t give much more:

“[he] suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;”

So, why do we take one day (Good Friday) and turn it into the church year?

The liturgical calendar (liturgy means “work of the people,” meaning you and me) has seasons: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time.ChurchYearCircle3

Good Friday is one single day. An important day to be sure. But it’s still one day, and a day only only makes sense by looking through the empty tomb.

If Good Friday is your church year, then you’re missing out on the good news.

If your piety and preaching focus only on the cross and whatever happens there, you miss:

Good Friday is coming, and I hope you will find a service to be a part of and enter into the agony of that day. But, I also hope you will live more fully into the depth and wonder of those four little words come the Easter Sunday and the season that follows.

Not because the cross isn’t important or paramount to our faith. But, because our faith is significant enough to not be limited, even to the cross.

 † When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Are You Washed in the Blood?; Jesus Paid It All; Near the Cross; Nothing But the Blood; The Old Rugged Cross; Lead Me to the Cross; At the Cross; The Power of the Cross; The Wonderful Cross
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