Protestants take great pride in their symbolic piety… or lack thereof.
In recent years we’ve abandoned the table… removed the cross and hymnals and bibles and stain-glassed windows…
“It’s not about the symbols” we’ve said, “It’s the truths they represent! As followers of Christ,” we’ve continued, “we live the truths of the symbols!”
(…I’m not sure that’s true but we like how spiritual it sounds and anyways that isn’t the theme of this post so I’ll let it slide).
In truth, the symbols simply cost too much in time, energy and money to maintain… and we have other things (better things?) to do with our time… our energy… our money…
…it’s convenient how God no longer expects me to make a sacrifice of the things that I want for myself (that’s a different post too… I’ll let it slide).
Get to the point!
Surely, you’ve noticed how the protestant cross is always empty. Catholics use a crucifix – a cross with an likeness of Christ still attached. Protestants insist, “He is no longer on the cross!” So, we shun crucifixes. Some go so far as to call them idolatrous.
…which is ironic given our love of placing some sort of likeness in mangers at Christmas.
We prefer the baby Jesus to the crucified Christ.
Is that because we imagine we prefer a god we can control? Because a manger-bound baby is safer? Because a god-in-a-manger won’t challenge my attitudes, my spending, my busy-ness, my reveling, …and if he does I can always coo-coo-coo and pretend I don’t understand.
Christ on the cross confronts my lust and greed and selfishness and busyness and pride and…. Christ on the cross reminds me, “This is for you!” Christ in a manger? …He’s cute and cuddly and don’t you just want to pinch His cheeks as you scurry off to buy something else that you don’t need in order to impress people who don’t even know you exist?
Listen, I believe the cross… and the tomb are empty. He IS risen!
…but the manger is empty too…