“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”
Throughout the 40 days of Lent this year at the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church our theme has been, Can You Relate? At the start of this Holy Week, can you relate to the cross?
During Holy Week we remember the last days of Jesus’ life on earth. When we get to Thursday, we hear Scripture about Jesus sharing the Passover meal with his disciples, washing their feet and giving them the commandment to love one another. Then on Friday, we hear the stories of the suffering and death of Jesus. The words from Philippians remind us that Jesus went as far as obedience would take him, even to death on a cross.
As we near the end of March and Women’s History Month, I was thinking of Bishop Marjorie Matthews, who was the first elected female bishop in The United Methodist Church and who served four years as our Wisconsin Bishop.
One year during the ordination service at our Annual Conference, Bishop Matthews was having trouble with her wireless microphone. When she spoke, there was a tremendous amount of static coming through her mic. It got so bad that the service had to stop while the technicians tended to the problem. After a few minutes the service continued and Bishop Matthews explained the problem…underneath her robe she was wearing a large, metal cross around her neck. As she moved, the cross was bumping into her cordless microphone, causing the annoying static.
Bishop Matthews said, “It seems the cross was causing the static.” Then she said, “Isn’t that just how it goes with the cross.”
Even though the cross is central to our Christian faith, it’s hard to fully understand this symbol of our faith that so often gives us static and reminds us of our inability to save ourselves. In the midst of the separation, isolation, pain, losses and grieving that we have all experienced on some level during the last year of the Covid-19 pandemic; the cross and the obedience of Jesus can offer us strength when we think that Jesus felt and experienced these same things centuries before us.
As we relate to the cross in these days of Holy Week, may we remember in gratitude the humble obedience of Jesus that is our redeeming, saving grace and hope.