Growing up the lesson I learned the cross of Christ was empty. That is why we wore plain little gold crosses. It was said by some, our symbol should really be the empty tomb. No one came up for that as a necklace. Our cross in front of the sanctuary hung barren.
I never argued with my Catholic friends who had the crucifix. I knew we had a difference and of course, being a child, felt my way was better. Sometimes seeing that big statue made me uncomfortable in some churches.
We focused on the risen Lord, with only a slight reference to the crucifixion with the spiritual Were You There? I never heard Sacred Head Now Wounded, until I got Amy Grant's album in 1979. Beautifully recorded with a thunderstorm in the background.
As I got older, in my young adult Bible study, the leader taught right before Easter on what actually happened on the cross. The suffering, the agony, the humanness of Jesus' pain came to light. We couldn't gloss over it on the way to Easter morning that year. The description made it real. As a nurse, I had seen some of that manifestation that I hadn't seen as a child.
I started to understand that though we may not need to dwell on the cross, we need to meditate on the sacrifice to realize the cost of our freedom. The Gospel of Matthew DVD first graphically depicted Calvary. A few years later, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ pushed me into my seat in the dark theater. I couldn't move after the curtain closed. A book by Ray Pritchard In the Shadow of the Cross gave more detail as I read it during Lent one year.
I think of a story Tony Campolo tells in his imitation of an African American Baptist preacher, Sunday's coming. We have to go through Friday's suffering and Saturday's mourning, but Sunday's coming, Sunday's coming. As I age, I have had a few Fridays in my life. But I have the hope of the Resurrection. To get to the Resurrection, I have to go through the cross. Sometimes, there are lessons that expand as we grow.