Recently I had the joy of a multi-day bike and camping adventure with my wife and kids. We cycled and we camped along the way for about two weeks and covered plenty of ground.
One of the strange elements of the trip was the crosses that marked the sides of the roads. Clearly, a lot of people die on our roads. There are so many little memorials to people it is a wonder any of us get anywhere safely.
The memorials take many shapes and are often extremely individualized. I suppose this is a way to commemorate something unique and important about the person. Maybe we desire to do this especially poignant when a loved one dies in a tragic and senseless way, as these people seem to have died.
As touching as they are, I sure wish and pray that we wouldn’t need so many of them.
As a christian I find it a bit startling how popular the cross seems to be with these tributes. Are all these people christian? Are their families? Or is it simply a well-known and recognized symbol of death within our culture?
I fear it’s the latter.
I fear that because statistically it is likely true. Also because the cross is meant to be a symbol of hope and when it is mostly associated with death something has gone sideways and it has reverted to its nasty meaning from Roman Times. It was an ugly, brutal, horrific thing back then that was transmogrified or sanctified, turned upside down, into a symbol of hope but he death and resurrection of Jesus. It went from a symbol of death to a symbol of the empty grave, of the resurrection, of forgiveness and new life.
Somehow I doubt that is what the crosses by the road connote to most of us. They seem to say, “here died our precious loved one.”
And yet, when tragedy strikes is when I need the truths of the gospel the most.
When our young people die or when injustice rears its ugly head and looks like it has won the day: these are the times I need to believe that Jesus is lord, that the apparent victory of death is an illusion, that there is life after death and there is justice coming.
I don’t know how Christians can work to turn the symbol upside-down again, from a symbol of death back to a symbol of life and hopes and dreams and mercy and peace and justice.
I am going to pray that it would happen, pray that if God desires to use me in making it so that I would hear him.
Maybe you could pray too?