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The cross still speaks (Sept. 15, 2004)

The cross still speaks (Sept. 15, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

The cross still speaks

Sept. 15, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0166}

NOTE:  A headshot of Whitaker is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

As all Floridians cope with the aftermath of the destruction of the recent hurricanes we are tempted to feel overwhelmed. Indeed, one of the expected reactions to a natural disaster in the weeks immediately following the disaster is depression. Sadly, already we are hearing reports of increased domestic violence, drug abuse and even suicide.
Our churches that were hit hard will have to go through a period of grief that at times will be depressing. Some of them will lose members who will have to move away, breaking the tender ties that bind us together. There will be financial anxiety. And there will be a postponement of plans for new ministries until the recovery is complete.
It is our faith that will sustain us and enable us to be victorious following this disaster. Our faith is in the living God who is revealed most completely in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Seen in light of God's raising of Jesus Christ from the dead, the cross is the emblem of our hope. What appeared to be a total disaster was revealed to be a glorious triumph. As the apostle Peter told the centurion Cornelius, "They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear..." (Acts 10:39-40).
There is an ancient medieval poem called "The Dream of the Rood." Written in the late 10th century, it probably existed in oral form much earlier. It is a poem about a person's dream of the cross of Christ speaking to him. First, the dreamer sees a beautiful tree that begins to speak. The tree describes how he was cut down and then used by cruel men to be a cross, the instrument of execution. Then he describes how the Lord was hung upon him and turned him into an object of adoration because of the salvation that Christ accomplished in his crucifixion. The cross had now become "the tree of triumph." The dreamer's life was transformed as he listened in his dream to the story of the cross. He says, "Often I endured weariness of spirit. Now is there hope of life..."
The cross still speaks to us, especially as we face the period of recovery. We are a people of faith in a God who reveals in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ that our weariness of spirit can be transformed into hope of life.

This commentary relates to Discipleship and Florida Conference Disaster Response.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.