Looking out of my study window I see one word, ‘cross’. It’s written on the side of my FIAT Panda. It’s on the inside too, part of what the marketing department would call styling. It is, I suspect, deliberately ambiguous. There is a 4-wheel drive version of the car, but not mine. It may be a shade of green that reminds me of my RAF days; and at this time of year, it is usually well covered in mud; but despite appearances, the car’s cross-country talents are strictly limited.
Cross, of course, has many meanings. The price of fuel has left many of us feeling, if not cross, then distinctly grumpy. Yet, while the driver may be cross, the idea of a grumpy car is a strange one. So maybe that’s not it either. Cross can also be shorthand for crossover, in marketing terms, part town, part off-road country, but in truth not quite either.
A crossover is a place of passing, a crossing point; it is valuable, but we can’t stay, it is a place of movement. Last week-end we celebrated The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas); the last Christmas event. From now on we are encouraged to look forward; Lent, Holy Week and Easter all beckon. At the end of Holy Week will come the cross; Jesus’ cross. This cross is the symbol of our faith, a reminder of Christ’s self-giving. So much so that it is easy to forget that Christ’s cross is also just a passing point, a place of crossing. Jesus hung there for a few hours, then his spirit passed back to his father, his body was taken for burial – then body and spirit, united, rose again. Death, even death on a cross, is but the gate to life immortal – a place of transition.
A car is not the journey, it is a tool to assist us on our travels. The Rectorial Panda carries the label ‘cross’, inside and out. An ambiguous name, but a reminder for me that The Cross, too, is not the end of the journey, but an essential crossing point on the road that brings us daily nearer God. (John Keble: New every morning is the love, verse 4)
Rev’d Philip Payne
Septuagesima (3rd before Lent)
The Notice Sheet for 5th February can be found here