formation friday: the cross

cross collage

“it is finished” – john 19:30

it’s good friday (well, it was, but since i’m just now posting this it’s holy saturday). and because it’s so important to not be too serious all the time, i really love david hayward’s cartoon.

each year, the cross has had different meanings to me. i’ve rewritten the same post different times here & here and every year it always shifts a little or certain things mean more than others.

when i was in israel & palestine in january, i had a whole new perspective on the cross and its realities (written by our group leader). one of the most significant pieces for me was the reality that the cross was more than likely eye level, on the road, right in front of everyone, not up on a hill like so much of our imagery suggested. the raw and intimate brutality of it all is so gory. the king, who came in to the roar of hosannas & anticipation, now hanging like the worst of criminals. beaten, scorned, mocked, abandoned–looking his mother in the eyes.

i like to honor good friday by remembering the story. the humility of Jesus. the ways we are always drawn toward success & power. the crazy way of the cross.

today for formation friday (aka formation saturday), i thought i’d just ask one question to ponder and reflect:

  • what does the cross mean to you this year?

there are no right or wrong answers, no spiritually mature ones or spiritually void ones. it’s just whatever is stirred up in your heart this year. for some, saying it out loud helps distill it. for others, just pondering it in our heart is all we need. but I do think it’s a good formation question to consider as we keep growing and transforming in our faith.

for me, as i was walking this week reflecting on the cross, i had two different word combos come to mind: brutal & beautiful and vicious & tender.

that’s how life is. that’s how Jesus on the cross is.

this year that’s what the cross means to me–another powerful and important reminder of God’s paradoxical ways. and how hard that is for me to live in as a human being hoping for a cleaner, easier path this side of heaven. i am constantly reminded how freaking hard & beautiful life is, how desperate i feel for my friends to catch a break, how broken our systems are, how often power & violence seems to win.

and then i remember the cross. it didn’t win.

love does.

but winning sure does look different than i ever expected.

peace and hope to you this easter weekend, kathy

ps: the image above is a little art piece i created this week just for fun. i tore up a bible (it was a teen girls promise bible that somehow ended up at my house and lightning did not strike), using a mix of scriptures i thought of this week. art is always healing.



Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • My whole world seems to have changed this year, so it doesn’t surprise me that my understanding of the cross should change, too….

    There is a reason it is called “Good Friday” — because, from the foundations of the universe, it was always the plan that the Eternal Son would enter our dimension so that he could bring his Father and the Holy Spirit with him into the darkness of our fallen, independence-driven, mindset … and activate the cosmic “reboot” in the New Covenant. The cross was the way in…and the resurrection is the way out. This is Good News! 🙂

    Our sweet Jesus, who created all and holds all creation together, came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves … because we needed glasses to correct our fallen sight. I call these cHesed glasses — and I have an even greater awareness of the power of these perspective changing spectacles… got to sit with it a little longer on this Sabbath.

    Be blessed….

    • thanks so much for sharing, peggy. i love your glasses imagery & eyes to see in new ways and how each year, things shift a little and somehow more scales fall off our eyes and hearts…blessings and hope to you on this crazy wild journey.

  • My thought even before your lead Scripture was “it is finished.” May I come to know even more all that means for me and for the world. May I operate from a “already finished” point if view rather than a striving …

    And, this week I’ve been meditating on the women’s question on their way to the Tomb from the Mark account …”who will roll away the stone for us?” The question so pragmatic, so narrow, considering what we know awaits them. But they didn’t know, and pointed their path toward death and the next-right-thing so typical of those in grief. There, they found not only the stone rolled away,but a messenger in white telling them their Savior had risen and was waiting for them in Galilee. I am headed to my own Gailiee, he awaits.

    • thanks mar, oh the real galilee was so pretty and your metaphor made me think of it and smile. so much in this story in all kinds of ways…

  • “What does the cross mean to you this year?”

    As I think about it here and now, I think of the horror of it of innocense being slaughtered. Of secular opression and of religioues hatred. For me, it only makes sense in the light of the resurreection, of Jesus overcoming death, the anthiesis of what happened in Eden with humankind’s disobedience when death entered the world.

  • This easter, my paradox of the cross is hope and despair. One step forward, two steps back. I was straining to remember the feeling I had when I first came into the faith system.. It was a wide-eyed idealism that I would feel god, every step of the way, and that my life would have meaning. I am so tired of the despair, that creeps up so fast. I am also reminded of the meaning of my name, and how, like the cross, something way deeper is represented.
    I used to have a purple jeweled cross that I loved & wore all the time, and I wore it as almost a shield, protecting me from the world around me. Years later, I need to cling to the cross to fight the despair within. The cross means that I can’t give up, because hope is likely around the corner. Maybe it, too, will come in 3 days from now. 🙂

  • Jesus came to show us God in person. “Religious” people didn’t like the challenge to their power, control and authority. They saw to it that he was crucified. “Religious” people still dislike the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus who loves even the outcast and the lepers. They invent a Jesus who hates the people they hate, a Jesus who sends hurricanes and kills gays. Is not the real Jesus continually being killed yet again?

    • thanks, sam, i hope you had a good day with your friends. it was cali weather here and i was so happy. yeah, i am always reminded when i read the story again how it all went down and how it keeps going down….fascinating, really, how resistant we are to humility and grace. love from colorado to you guys.


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