Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why the Cross?

Noting the gender exclusive language as a feature of the time the following is an exerpt from a Lenten sermon broadcast on radio in 1934 by Iona Community founder, anti-nuclear weapon campaigner, and preacher - George MacLeod.

'Getting music out of what is left of life; being stricken with blindness and yet continuing to see supremest visions (this a reference to Milton whom he has earlier quoted); fighting a duel with a sword – and when the sword gets broken, fighting on with the hilt: carrying on the same task – in any sphere – more brilliantly when the untoward happens and the crisis comes. Whenever we get a clean-cut example of undiscouraged pluck, it reaches down into our hearts to make music – sweeter than all the stories of success – and strikes a reverberating chord that we know is true, explain it as we may.

God, having put a Cross at the centre of the world’s mystery, also put it into men’s hearts to respond to crosses.

It is here that we see the first- if not the main- purpose of why God may have let it happen. Christ always preached self-sacrifice in His life, and not only in His death. But the Cross, coming at the end, stands clear cut and incisive, reflecting, as in some brilliant miniature, the larger framework of His whole life’s message. His life from start to finish was like a sun giving warmth to all who came within its rays; but in His Cross that same sun became focussed, as through a lens, till the warmth of His example becomes so concentrated as to set on fire all that it touches. That resolute persistency, the doing battle with the hilt when His sword was gone…attracts men, draws them, thrills them. You cannot say why; it is just that it does. In being lifted up from the earth, He arrested the attention not of the House of Israel only, who knew His claims. He moved the universal heart of man.

George MacLeod, Lenten sermon, 'The Cross', Govan Calling, 1934.

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