Through The Cross to Light
I wonder if these questions are familiar to you? ‘Where are my keys?’, ‘Where’s my phone?’
I now have a tracking device attached to both my phone and keys as I misplace them every verse end. So, I wonder, how come I forget where my keys are after putting them down an hour ago but vividly remember the place I hid my first tooth for the tooth fairies when I was six? Or, how I forget what my neighbour was wearing this morning but remember in exquisite detail my childhood party dress?
Neuroscientists have discovered that the most vivid memories we recall are those which are attached to a strong emotion. This explains why, whenever I smell toffee apples, I remember with joy our childhood family bonfires, or whenever I see candy floss, I remember a conversation I had with my father at the Whitsuntide parade in 1975.
Another vivid memory of my childhood is an image, well actually two images of Jesus. My childhood church was St Francis Roman Catholic Church in Eccleshill, Bradford and I also attended the church school. During the renovations of the church in 1973-4 all pupils were marched up the hill in an orderly fashion once a week, to see the progress of the building.
Being raised in the Roman Catholic faith meant that the image of the crucifixion was very familiar to me. I was taught from a young age that Christ had suffered on the cross and died for our sins. My lovely Irish Granny, Maggie, told me the story frequently as I gazed up at the crucifix in her living room.
I will never forget the day we went inside our new St Francis’ church for the first time. When I walked in, I was met with a sight that has changed my life forever! There, behind the altar, where a huge crucifix used to hang, was a spectacular sculpture of the risen Christ. It was as if he was suspended in thin air with the empty cross behind him and the look on his face had turned from the look of sorrow and pain I had grown used to, to love, life and light. It was a breathtaking sight. The way the sunlight danced on the golden paint, the brilliant white flowing robe and the other vibrant colours cast by the stained glass was just mesmerising! In that moment I felt complete love, joy and protection. I understood the resurrection and how different Jesus appeared. The pain had gone and all was well with the world and I was changed.
Of course, as I grew up, I realised that all was not well with the world – there was much suffering. But for me, the hope of resurrection helped me put the pain in context. I went through a very dark time in my own life but held onto that image of the risen Christ. I held onto those feelings of love, protection and hope that my pain would go one day.
My senior school had the motto Per Crucem, Ad Lucem, meaning ‘Through the Cross to Light’. This is the profound but paradoxical truth of the cross. Jesus had to go through the agony of death to conquer sin and death. Through his redemptive suffering we are redeemed and when we are redeemed we become different people. God brings light and life out of our suffering. More importantly for me though, is that he is with us in our suffering. This is the depth of his love for us. God is not the agent of our suffering but he uses our suffering to help us grow and to help us help others.
As we look at the cross this Good Friday, we are confronted with the pain Jesus suffered for the world. “For God so loved the world, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
As we reflect over this Easter weekend, let us be reminded that we can bring our suffering to the foot of the cross, trusting that God is with us and knows the depths of our pain. Then as we celebrate Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday let us be expectant that Christ has, is and will continue to transform us, as he brings light, love and eternal life to this broken world.
Per Crucem, Ad Lucem.