Here we are partway through Lent and I find myself coming back time and time again to what I like to call the cross connection - that is the way we are connected to the Lord at the foot of the cross. After all, whatever you think of the cross, it is a strange symbol for a faith that lifts up the triumphant love of God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The cross connection reunites us with the greatness of God. Here, at the foot of the cross, the relationship between Creator and creature is restored. It is here, at the foot of the cross, that Jesus says “come, come back into a balanced life with me.” The cross connection works in some basic ways. First, it secures salvation. A faithful and righteous God cannot and will not glance away from sin and evil in dreamy irresponsible indulgence. At the cross Christ suffers for our sin. In classic theology this is called substitutionary atonement. The word atonement can be understood if you just break it down into its parts – at-one-ment. It means to be at one, reconnected, with God. A restoration of the relationship with God through God’s self-sacrificial love. God’s greater love breaks the great rebellion by stepping forward to pay the price. Second, it places life back in balance demanding that we radically trust God and rely on the greatness of God. Think of the connection in this way. It orders our priorities. Life as it was meant to be moves in a relationship with God and in relation to those we love. Through the cross connection those are first order things and the rest of the stuff – what we wear and eat and drink and all the paraphernalia of human accomplishment or lack thereof - follows in its proper subservient place. It works when we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, [when we do so] … all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Third, it invites us to follow this Christ in picking up our cross in love for others. The cross connection calls us to greater service following Christ. This is our crowing joy and obedience in living. Posted on the wall of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing site was the following written by an unknown author: I said, "God I hurt." And God said, "I know." I said, “God, I cry a lot.” And God said, “That is why I gave you tears.” I said, “God, I am so depressed.” And God said, “That is why I gave you sunshine.” I said, “God, life is so hard.” And God said, “That is why I gave you loved ones.” I said, “God, my loved one died.” And God said, “So did mine.” I said, “God, it is such a loss.” And God said, “I saw mine nailed to a cross.” I said, “God, but your loved one lives.” And God said, “So does yours.” I said, “God, where are they now?” And God said, “Mine is on My right and yours is in the Light.” I said, “God, it hurts.” And God said, “I know.” It is at the foot of the cross, through the cross connection, that life comes back into its proper focus. Sheila Walsh, in her marvelous recording Hope, offers us this great truth in her song, “Here is Love Vast as the Ocean.” “On the mount of crucifixion Fountains opened deep and wide Through the floodgates of God’s mercy Flowed a vast and gracious tide Grace and love like mighty rivers Poured incessant from above And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice Kissed a guilty world in love.” (Sheila Walsh, Hope, “Here is Love Vast as the Ocean,” verse 2) May the cross connection lead us deeper into Lent.