This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

The place of the cross

A couple of weeks ago the Rainbow Mennonite Church choir sang these words prior to our monthly communion service: “Here are symbols to remind us of our lifelong need of grace; here are table, font and pulpit; here the cross has central place.”

I had to smile when thinking about that last phrase. Currently a cross does not hang permanently front and center in our current sanctuary. That has not always been the case.

The cross symbolizes and evokes different things for different people. I went through a phase in college when upon seeing someone wearing a cross necklace, I felt physically upset and wondered why on earth anyone would wear a torture device around their neck?! After all, that is what the cross represented for Jesus — it was the equivalent to our modern-day electric chair. Now, more than 10 years later, I seem to be in the business of collecting crosses (occupational hazard, I suppose).

“What does the cross do?” asked a young girl at Rainbow recently. She didn’t ask what it is, but what it does. What a question?!

Perhaps we can all think about what our answer might be to this wonderful question as we approach the second Sunday in Lent. And while you’re at it, how would you answer these questions?

In what ways is the cross central/not central in your life and faith?
In what ways is the cross central/not central in our life together?
And how would we know if and when the cross is central, whether permanently displayed or not?

And lest anyone accuse Rainbow of not having the cross permanently displayed in our sanctuary, there are actually three crosses attached to the top of the organ, but I doubt if many people at Rainbow know this — maybe not until now.

Ruth Harder is the pastor of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Mo. She blogs at, where this first appeared.

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