the cross re-dux

the cross
*i wrote this post last easter.  really, i think i’d probably just write the same one again. it’s been a wild week here, friends hurting & hospitalized & all kinds of other nuttiness that keeps bringing me back to reality.  to the here and now.  to the preciousness of life.  for my desperate need for hope.  for a thankfulness that good friday is not the end of the story.

* * * * *

to me, holy week is about downward mobility as a path to life.    Jesus, the promised messiah, rides into Jerusalem a hero and goes out on a cross next to two criminals.  he washes his followers feet.  he’s flat on his face crying out for mercy just like the rest of us.  he takes the path of most resistance instead of the path of least.   he embodies the message that going down, not rising above, is the message of the kingdom.  and we all know this a brutal message in so many ways because of what it actually requires of us.

i collect crosses.  this photo is one little nook in my house where they’re most concentrated, but i have a bunch more than that (never noticed how crooked they all are, ha ha, it’s a metaphor for my life, that’s for sure).   i love the image of the cross because it reminds me of what i constantly need to be reminded of:

the ways of the kingdom are utterly contrary to the ways of the world.

so in the spirit of post-easter week & the beauty of the cross, i thought i’d share what the cross means to me this year.  not the crosses on my wall or on my necklaces i always wear, but The Cross.  the cross that was carried when Jesus could barely walk.  the cross that his hands and feet were nailed to.  the cross that he took his last breath on.  the cross at the top of hill that was surrounded by people who just a few days before were sure he was somehow going to save them in the way they expected. the cross that took his life momentarily but not in the end.

there’s no doubt in my mind i need to continually remember what the cross really means, not in a happy-clappy-trite-only-on-easter way, but in the deep places of my heart and experience that extends far beyond holy week.

this year, the cross reminds me that:

yeah, without pain and suffering, it’s really hard to experience new life.  all the end-around-ways we try to avoid things are a big waste of time.

my natural tendency is to find a way to take an easier way out.  even Jesus tried.

i always want to move up, not down.  down is harder.  down hurts.  down is confusing.

God uses the weirdest things to make a point.

shame must be scorned.  Jesus didn’t hang on that cross so i/we could live in shame.

love looks like sacrifice.  not talking about sacrifice.  actually sacrificing. damn, it’s easier to talk about it.

love hurts.

God’s way of redeeming injustice and my ways are two different things.

victory needs a new definition; i’m almost positive it isn’t the one was taught to me in most of my christian experience.

the world’s, the church’s , addiction to strength, power, and upward-mobility thinking need some serious shifting.

Jesus modeled what we are actually supposed to do as his followers.  imagine what would the world look like if we actually did it?|

without hope, we perish.

yeah, it is finished.  like, really finished.   and that it is a mind-bender if i embrace what that really means, not just for me but for everyone.

out of death and darkness, hope and new life emerges. sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

just my thoughts this week.  i am thankful for the reminder.

what about you.   what does the cross mean to you this year?

* * * * *

a few other easter week thoughts:

  • i missed our maundy thursday gathering yesterday because i was with a friend at the hospital, but i read this lovely piece from sarah bessey and it made up for it somehow. yes, we were loved right up ’til the end.
  • i also loved this post today from maggi dawn (mary oliver’s my favorite poet) for good friday.
  • as always, christine sine has the prettiest prayers (we are using one of them at our easter celebration service that is gorgeous). if you haven’t bought her book yet–light for the journey–do!  here’s some recent loveliness:

God as we walk through Holy week may we remember,
Beyond sin there is love inexhaustible,
Beyond death there is life unimaginable,
Beyond brokenness there is forgiveness incomprehensible,
Beyond betrayal there is grace poured out eternally,
May we remember and give thanks

  • last tuesday i was a guest on the collective podcast.  the topic – downward mobility, imagine that.
  • Jesus wept – oh this is beautiful from brene brown and the work of the people.  so worth watching.


Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

14 Comments

  • I heard Jason Upton preach last November. He spoke a message with a really similar thought as you are presenting here. He said that as Christians we often practice for the “rapture” — we practice to be taken up in heaven in a moment. He talked about resurrection practice, where we practice dying. Resurrection practice is a practice of walking in opposition the the upward climb of American culture.

    Really good thoughts!

    Reply
  • “Love looks like sacrifice. not talking about sacrifice. actually sacrificing. damn, it’s easier to talk about it.”

    Thinking about this today, it’s my 5yr wedding anniversary…It’s as if Holiness comes at the cost of sacrifice.

    To be whole, we need to get rid of the parts that are not whole. That hold us back from being whole. It really is so much easier to talk about it than doing…

    Reply
    • jenn – oh yeah, i love to talk about it! so much easier…and in the relationships that are closest to us, sometimes the very hardest…thanks for reading & being part here.

      Reply
  • I am always thankful for the reminders, as I do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.. Sometimes I fear that too much rejection of the old ways, for me, means that I need to come back to my faith “roots”. Most powerful thoughts that I got from this great post are:

    i always want to move up, not down. down is harder. down hurts. down is confusing.

    Um… yeah. Way harder. It is so clear why we need each other..,because sometimes (lots of times) we forget why we went down in the first place. Thankful for glimmers of reminders..

    without hope, we perish.

    Yup.

    out of death and darkness, hope and new life emerges. sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

    Yes, please. Like you said, without hope we perish. It would just be too damn hard, and frankly, not worth it. But, resurrection is a’coming!!! 🙂

    Reply
  • Just like the Jews wanted a Messiah who would be greater than David or Solomon, one would would deliver them and bring back the glory days of the old kingdom, the church too loves Christian heroes, preachers who look like movie stars and a message that God is going to make everything great for us. It really is discomfitting, is it not, when that scenario doesn’t work out?

    If we are to follow Jesus it probably won’t mean wealth and palaces for most of us. Perhaps the best vantage point from which to gain a proper perspective is at life’s end, when we look back on our lives. Will a pile of stuff that glitters compare to a life well-lived following Jesus and loving people? Do we want fleeting fame or a “well done” from Jesus? The way down, in the end, is the only way up.

    Reply
    • sam – “the way down, in the end, is the only way up…” the way of the cross is so wild & beautiful & against-all-conventional-wisdom-and-the-ways-of-the-world

      Reply
  • still LOVE the downward, humility type thought. so often unseen where we humble ourselves and put others “above” us or lift them up, etc. Seems there’s too much competition sometimes and the real serving doesn’t happen. Cool thing, received two separate emails from two friends who said they envisioned boasting me up above a fence that I could see over!!! Whoa…blew my mind. Glad I get to see over the fence, but for two people to “lower” themselves to support something like this??? Don’t see that very often. Seems everyone wants to “knock you down” and try and climb the fence on there own…often at your expense. You rock, PK. Hey, BTW-LOVE the new design!!!! VERY PRETTY!!! 🙂

    Reply
  • I just stumbled across your blog and have read some of your posts. I’m new to the whole god thing and appreciate your blog.

    C

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *