I came across a question recently that stirred my thinking. Why do we display crosses in worship instead of, say, an empty tomb? Shouldn't we celebrate Christ's victory instead of His death?
Now, many churches do not display a cross. Some traditions see such artistic displays as idolatry. Some see a physical cross as a block, keeping a worship space from being modern and approachable by those simply exploring this Christian thing. As you may assume, I see the cross as pivotal to our worship.
In the story of God, we have Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Re-creation. Redemption is the cross. It is the broken flesh and shed blood of Jesus. That price is talked about throughout the Old Testament; first as an animal sacrifice (Leviticus 16) and eventually as a prophecy about Jesus (Isaiah 53).
In many traditions, communion is celebrated weekly. In some traditions, we only celebrate communion every month or even every quarter. But throughout Church history Communion was pivotal to the Christian worship expression. After the teaching/homily/sermon, Communion was celebrated right before ‘Peace’ was declared. Communion was the apex of worship. It was the event all of the previous actions led up to, and the action from which the church was dismissed and sent forth into Mission.
Having a cross in worship is a reminder of the price paid for our gathering in the presence of God. Without the Cross, we are not invited into worship. Without the Cross, we are not given mission or purpose in the Kingdom. Without the Cross, we do not carry Father, Son and Spirit in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33). Yes, the resurrection is amazing and powerful. The Ascension is beyond comprehension and Pentecost was an explosive display of the Spirit’s power… but none of that happens without the work of the Cross. The power displayed in the humility of our King. That is why I like having a cross displayed when I’m in worship.