Director of Christian Education
The cross of Jesus tells a story with one single picture. -Daryl Evans
There was a Sunday not too long ago that I was standing in the Sanctuary with Pastor Tom before church. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but there was a child in there also. This young person wandered up to where we were talking between the choir pews and walked across the cross in the floor tiles. Tom quietly and politely asked the child to not walk on the cross.
Flash to my youth many years ago. I don’t remember when it happened, or if someone told us, but for as long as I can remember, I knew to never walk on that cross. And now I sit in church and watch those who walk to and from the altar to see if they walk on the cross. Weird obsession, but maybe not.
In conversation with the XOO kids and Youth Group, I have discovered that our youth also know not to walk on the cross. Did you notice Hannah Locke, who had the part as the creator in the youth skit a couple weeks ago, walk in a square in the chancel area as she wandered as the creator making sure not to walk on the cross. They have told me they have no idea how they know not to walk on the cross. But at some point they learned that.
One year when we were sitting on the chancel steps and I was reading a story to the XOO kids, I asked them about the cross. Most of them knew not to walk on it, but not why. So I asked them what they thought. One dear little one told me quite confidently that we do not walk there because Jesus is buried there. A couple of the other kids nodded their heads in agreement. I remember their disappointment when I told them that Jesus was not buried there. But you know, them thinking that we should not walk on the cross because it was Jesus’ grave showed me what they knew about respect. I don’t know about you, but I still feel funny walking in a cemetery to a particular grave, like my grandparents. I really try to avoid walking where I think a person may have been laid to rest. Not an easy thing to do sometimes. But I try to respect their space. Our little kids understand respect.
As Tom and I continued our conversation, I told him about not knowing who may have told me we just didn’t walk on that cross. And he said something like, “It is just a matter of respect.” And it is.
There is a minister at one of the churches who made a comment to his congregation explaining why there is no cross in their church. His explanation was something to the effect that we take the cross for granted when we see it all the time and so they did not need one. Ummm…No. We do not take that cross for granted here at St. John’s. It stands for the horrible thing that happened to our Christ, but also reminds us of all that was good and kind and beautiful in the man on earth, Jesus. When I walk into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings to sit and prepare myself for worship, my eyes go directly to our altar and the cross that sits there. It centers me and reminds me to whom we belong and who loves us unconditionally.
At our church camps, there are crosses. They make us stop and think a minute or pray for a time. There is a very tall one that can be seen from the deck of the dining hall at what was Pilgrim Hills. I loved to walk out to the end of the deck and look at that cross on the other side of a valley, no matter the weather. I hope those who bought the camp will leave it up. The good news is that when we were at the Women’s Overnight a couple weekends ago, I discovered another big white cross up in the woods of Templed Hills. It made me feel good about being there.
No, I do not take our cross (es) for granted. And neither do our children and youth. They mean something to all of us. Our crosses stand for who we are in this place and others and what we believe. And we know to show them respect.