Thought for the Month March 2024 by Rev. Ken Stokes

This year in March we travel through much of Lent, the whole of Holy Week and celebrate Easter Day all in one. How can we hold these very different events and the emotions that accompany them together?

One of the churches I care for has a small Montessori School next to it and sometimes during Lent a group of children come into the church so that they can learn about what Christians believe. Amongst other things I usually point them to one of the several crosses that we have at the front of the church. I ask them if they notice anything about the cross, sometimes because they are mostly bright as buttons, one of them will point out that they have seen crosses in other churches with a little man on it. I then say that the little man is meant to represent Jesus who died for us, and we usually call that cross a crucifix.  I say that I believe there is nothing wrong with a church having a crucifix at the front because that reminds the people there that Jesus suffered and  died  for  us. However the cross in a Methodist Church does not usually have a little man on it because we want to say that though Jesus died on the cross, he is no longer there because we think the most important thing is that Jesus is alive and there is certainly nothing wrong with that either. 

Now as Methodist through and  through I am glad that we have our empty cross because I believe the resurrection is a central tenet of faith for Christians. However I do sometimes  wish  that it wasn’t a case of having either crucifix or an empty  cross  at  the front of our churches because I think these symbols are not the opposite of each other but can inform each other. During the season of Lent and most especially in Holy Week we are reminded how Jesus pays the price of loving us. However when Easter comes it is tempting to think of our risen and ascended Lord has becoming some sort of mighty king ready to strike back unrepentant enemies. We need to remember that Jesus is our crucified and risen Lord. The loving Jesus who  died  for  us is not made less loving by his resurrection. Jesus is raised from the dead precisely because the love that he showed is not defeated but will ever be triumphant.


Loving God, each day of this month, help me in my heart and mind to journey with your son Jesus as he travels to the cross. Remind me of the great price of love that Jesus paid for us all by dying for us. Then make me ready to celebrate that in Jesus your love for us was not defeated by his death on the cross but rather was rather raised again triumphant with him. This we pray through Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. Amen.