As I think back over the past month and how my life has been impacted by what we in the church have labeled Easter, I am evaluating why I feel some sense of relief now that the season has come to an end.
Perhaps it has something to do with the pace of my life. As a pastor, Easter is a time when programming requires a significant investment of time. But my relief is from more than simply having a freer schedule. Easter is about some rather unsavory things … things I don’t really want to see, talk about or experience. You see, I like my cross sanitized.
Every year at Easter time, I am smacked in the face with the reality of the gruesomeness of the cross upon which Jesus died. I know the story well. I have heard it all my life. Jesus suffered and bled and died for my sins. But if I am honest, most of the time I want to think about a cross that is shiny and bloodless. You know the kind I am talking about — like the one that hangs around your neck.
This leads to a haunting question: Have I allowed Easter to become more of a fairy tale than a reality?
Certainly, the secular world has turned Easter into a fairy tale full of fun stories of bunnies, candies and eggs. But has the church made the story more palatable by sanitizing the cross and making it more comfortable to witness?
Years ago, I was confronted after a Sunday when we sang numerous songs about the blood. “I just don’t get it,” the person said. “If you want people to come to the church, then you have to stop singing about the blood … it’s gross!”
After watching some clips of “The Passion of the Christ,” I have to agree that blood is gross. However, if we take the blood out of the sacrifice, we lose sight of the magnitude of what God did when He sent Jesus to die in our place.
The cross was and is the place of radical sacrifice. It was the apparatus upon which people were sent to die. It was ugly and stained.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus is asked by a young man, “What must I do to become your disciple?” Jesus’ response was clear.
“If you want to follow me,” Jesus said, “you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me.”
Could it be true that we prefer our crosses to be pretty pieces of jewelry rather than our personal place of sacrifice? Perhaps we want the story to be a feel-good, pretty fairy tale that leaves us comfortable, safe and secure, not a story that calls us to deny ourselves.
Max Lucado spoke years ago about how one of the ways we had turned Christmas into a fairy tale was by “taking the manure out of the manger.” In the same way, we just might be guilty of removing the blood from the cross.
Let us never forget that it was a rugged, bloody cross that purchased our pardon.
Mark Adcock is pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Fortville. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.