Maps are wonderful. It a joy to fondle the large sheets as you plan a trip; then to fold the chosen sheet so that it is ready to guide you along the selected path. As you go you feel smug. Contour lines confirm the hills to the left and the blue line the burn on your right. But as you push on conditions deteriorate, and all too quickly you have become enveloped in a blanket of fog. Selecting which way to take becomes less obvious and before long you have to admit that you are thoroughly lost.
Take a compass with you, use it as required, and the loss of direction can be avoided.
To say Christ is our compass is trite in the extreme, yet we seem to require this annual reminder of the fact that Christ died for our sins. Yes, it really does say this in the Bible (1 Corinthians 15, verse 3) and St Paul describes these words as being of first importance.
A seventeenth century medical practitioner, Henry Vaughan, serving in the Welsh border-country penned these powerful sentiments:
Ah, my dear Lord! What could’st thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made thee thus resolve to die
For those that killed thee every day?
O what strange wonders could thee move
To slight thy precious blood and breath!
Sure it was Love, my Lord, for Love
Is only stronger far than death.
We live daily with Covid-death figures. It is salutary to remember that the death of Jesus is more significant than all the deaths from pandemics since the start of recorded time.
Over this festival let us daily each use our own words of appreciation for the death of Jesus, but let us end by always affirming in fellowship:
Jesus, thank you for the cross.