This Lent, First Christian Church has been blessed with an exhibit by artist Carolyn DiGiovanni called “The Journey to the Cross.” It is a collection of crosses of various shapes and colors and sizes on the walls of our sanctuary. Now, each cross has a corresponding meditative thought hanging near it–well, each except one. There is one cross hanging from the back balcony. That cross is a large black and white crucifix of sorts and its meditation is hanging far below it where it can be read easily. However, of all the crosses on display, I fear this is the cross that will be missed the most. So I publish this meditation here as the first of the meditations on the blog in case you don’t see it all the way up there in the sanctuary. I hope you find it meaningful, as it was quite meaningful to write it. The cross is called Forgiveness in Black and White. –Jolin McElroy
Luke 23:33-38 (NRSV)
33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
This cross, when looked at closely, seems to be a swirl of black and white and spatters of paint. But from far away, we can find the image of Christ there, dying and forgiving. While on the cross, as Luke tells the story, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” When reading the Gospels, it is hard to avoid the truth that we, so often, sin and justify those sins by pointing out good that comes from them. It is possible to do the wrong things for the right reasons, just as it is possible to do the right things for the wrong reasons. Those who crucified Jesus thought they were preserving law and order and preventing an uprising. They thought they were removing someone who stirred up controversy and therefore were keeping the peace. In the process of putting Jesus on trial and condemning him to death, the people of this world revealed how broken and how useless our efforts to keep peace and order can be–and how sinful our impulses behind those efforts are.
When have you gone along with the crowd and allowed sin to cloud your judgment? For what in your life does Jesus say, “Father, forgive, for this one does not know what s/he is doing?” What changes do you need to make in the way you live?
Father, forgive me. I did not know what I was doing. Amen.
Artist Carolyn DiGiovanni’s crosses will be on exhibit through March 25th, 2018 in the sanctuary of First Christian Church, Charlotte.
1200 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC.