Recently I saw pictures of the crosses placed together over a period of three hundred years in Lithuania. Even though my Christian faith has always had the cross at the center of our worship, it led me to ask why people around the world find that this instrument of agony and crucifixion is so powerful as they contemplate their own lives?
The words that came to mind were these: sacrificial love; hope, forgiveness of sins, grace, mercy, healing…and many more words.
To the Lithuanians, it had an even deeper meaning for this hill has a dark history. The hill, called The Hill of Crosses, was a symbol of strength during the German invasion of Lithuania. The Soviets also murdered many people in Lithuania and brought bulldozers in to destroy the hill. The road to the hill was blocked and there was a ban on going to the hill. The people would defy those restrictions and go there at night…for the cross was their symbol of resistance; their struggle and hope for freedom. Yes, there is power in the cross of Christ….and perhaps in 100,000 crosses on this hill.
In 1855, John Bowring penned the words that may seem a little odd for he wrote about his “glory” in the cross. He wrote “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”. What did he mean that he could glory in the cross? His words may give us an understanding of what was true to him and down through the ages. Mr. Bowring had no idea how much suffering the people of Lithuania would endure and what the cross would mean to them or to those who read blogs.
“In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time; all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life over take me…hopes deceive and fears annoy, never shall the cross forsake me. Lo it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming..light and love upon my way, from the cross the radiance streaming…adds more luster to the day.
Bane (sorrows) and blessing..pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified; peace is there that knows no measure, joys that through all time abide…..”
This writer reminds us that he can only glory in what Christ did on the cross…to be our substitute for the punishment of sin….and this cross brings him light and joy in his everyday walk. He also mentions that the cross (or Christ who died on the cross and rose again) will never forsake him. There is not much more that the cross could represent.
To many, it has a multitude of meanings. People of Lithuania and thousands of visitors now climb this hill to place their crosses and say their prayers. Multiply all the crosses over hundreds of years…. plus all the prayers to God through wars and persecution…the POWER OF THE CROSS is most incomprehensible!
Artists and sculptors have tried to depict Christ and his suffering. Many can show his suffering, but few can depict what all this means in joy to the believer and to those who clung to the symbol of the cross for their survival.
It is a mystery why the cross has so much power…but it is obvious that it does and those who have tried, or will try, to destroy faith in Christ, Who conquered death on the cross, will not succeed.