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My Two Cents

June 12, 2022, 12:00 AM

Back in the day, before our family of origin began attending worship at Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we worshipped in one of two chapels on what is now called Joint Base Andrews. Our chapel of choice was named (in true Air Force style) “Chapel Number 2”. It was on the base but just barely. It sat in a grove of trees and looked like it belonged out on a country road somewhere. Surrounded by a cemetery, the building had that ‘little white church in the valley” look about it. I have fond memories of walking in the shade among the headstones before and after worship.

The other chapel (Chapel Number 1, of course) was much larger and more institutional looking. It had Air Force blue walls and drapes, fluorescent lights, and blonde wood pews. I didn’t like the feel of that chapel, partly because of its size and its ambiance. But also, because the cross at the front of that chapel had Jesus hanging on it. And he looked rough. It would be a while before I understood the difference between a cross and a crucifix. It would be a while before I understood that chapel #2 was for Protestants and Chapel #1 was for Catholics. All I knew as a six-year-old was that I preferred my crosses empty.

Over the years, though, while I still love the simplicity of the empty cross, I have grown to appreciate the crucifix. As more of a Good Friday Christian than an Easter Sunday Christian, I like the way the crucifix reveals the humanity of Jesus. This man suffered and it wasn’t pretty. In doing so, he gathers all the rest of us who have had our share of “un-pretty” suffering, into the lap of God’s grace. The stark, morbid, disfigured Jesus hanging from the cross drives that point home for me. We shouldn’t be scared into believing. But being reminded about the reality of the suffering of others can be transformational.

And that is why I wonder if all of those who continue to believe that semi-automatic weapons should be available to people other than those in uniform, should be shown photographs of the children whose bodies were ripped apart last week in Uvalde. Maybe a grim reminder that it is guns, after all, that kill people will be what it finally takes to change hearts and minds. Until we ban these terrible weapons those children will have died in vain.

Of course, such a ban isn’t likely to happen in our gun loving country. So, in the meantime, we have the crucifix- revealing the destroyed body of Jesus. I can only hope that its depiction of Jesus suffering helps the families- still reeling from grief- know that, while their suffering is unspeakable, they are not, in the end, alone. They are with a God who has watched their children continue to destroy each other’s bodies. And who can’t look away.