Practicing Stillness: At the Cross

Night on Golgotha, 1869, Vasily Vereshchagin, (1835-1909) oil on canvas, 26.1 x 39.3 inches, Moscow, Russia,
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Every time I spend quality time in mindful consideration of the Cross, I fall in love with God and his way of dealing with mankind all over again.

But how can I live with the Cross more present in my thoughts? How can I drink more deeply of the waters that flow freely from the fountain of love that is Christ’s sacrifice?

By regularly allowing myself to mentally stand at the foot of the Cross…not turning away from the horror of it all, but not sugar coating it either. Yes! it is a fine line we must learn to balance if we want the lessons of our Savior’s sacrifice to fully imprint on our soul.

As always, I find it interesting to wonder about the meaning an artist brings to his unique rendering of the scenes surrounding the Cross. At first, I was drawn to Vasily Vereshchagin’s “Night on Golgotha” because of the darkness it portrays. It seems that we are allowed to view Golgotha from a distance. I can relate to this feeling since we are all trying to view this event from the distance of time. I can understand how he is peering across the great distance of time and capturing the darkness of the moment.

And yet if you reconsider, notice how the ladder is leaning against the center cross. Jesus is no longer suffering in agony. He has already let go of life. At the foot of the Cross, we can see a small gathering, with heads bowed to honor Christ in the first moments after he has died. They are bounded together in their grief. If ever there was a dark moment in history, this would have to be supreme. And yet, we can see there seems to be just a ray of light. The artist has captured those first moments by painting the clouds as they began to part.

Seeing this, I am reminded that even in our darkest hour, we can look for little signs of hope. We can be confident that God is at work in a multitude of unseen ways.

Let us join in the chorus as Paul writes:

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…(Romans 1: 16a) …You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5: 6 & 8

I hope you will join me in the coming weeks as we learn to lean in and listen closely for the wisdom of Jesus’ words as he suffered and died on the Cross. Jesus’ Seven Last Words, have often given my strength and I look forward to sharing these moments together as we continue to Practice Stillness at the Cross.

May the understanding of God’s love bring you peace…

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