Christ On The Cross: Embodiment of Grace

The image to the right is a life-sized sculpture carved from oak wood, commissioned by Archbishop Gero. Created in the 10th century, Gero Crucifix showcases a series of milestones in the development of Christian artwork of this time. Gero Crucifix would be classified as artwork from the Ottonian period in pre-Romanesque Germany.

Characteristic of this period, jewels are embedded in the halo that surrounds Christ’s bowed head. A figure of Christ on the cross of this magnitude was largely unheard of prior to the Ottonian period. Also, Christ would have been positioned far less realistically had it been created during an earlier period. This sculpture was so gingerly carved that it looks as though it might have the consistency of putty, or even actual flesh when viewing it from a distance. The body of Christ appears pliable and distressed. His skin folds and sags, and his weighty body looks as though it might slide down the cross. Thick locks gently rest upon the shoulders of a man whose facial expression is that of one in deep sorrow.

This was his gift.

“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!’ And with those words he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46, NLT)

The Gero Crucifix captures that pivotal moment when Christ chose to submit to his assignment.

“And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.”
(John 17:19)

Christ’s sacrifice united us with God. Zechariah 12:10 predicts this event and explains that the spirit that was released was the spirit of grace and prayer.

Now, looking towards the book of Ephesians, chapter 2 (vs. 8, 10), it reads that we have been saved by grace because we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This gift allows us to be renewed and grow to carry out our true purpose – His will in each of our lives.

As you view Gero Crucifix, try to imagine that day on the cross. It was the day that changed everything. On this day all of our sins and shortcomings were forgiven by one gracious act. His body was weighed down by our pasts so that we might be given the option of placing our trust and the prospect of a new life, in him. It was the day that gave us direct access to God’s grace, even as Gentiles.

What meaning does this image have for you? Does it call you to revisit the idea of Christ’s saving grace?

For me, it represents a blanket of serenity; the embodiment of grace.

Gero Cross, Wikipedia,

Luttikhuizen, H. & Verkerk, D. (2006). Snyder’s Medieval Art (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Spiritual Maintenance Tip #1: Gratitude Prayer

In Paul’s famous passage about pressing towards the mark, he makes a statement that I think we often overlook. In Philippians 3:16, he writes, “But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” It is so easy to lose track of progress that has been made. Life becomes busy, we develop tunnel vision – always focusing on what is ahead, and we might begin to feel as though we are running on a gerbil wheel – not making any progress at all.

If you were to think back over your life, can you make a list of five goals that you set months or even years ago and have also accomplished them? As you read that list of five items, what thoughts and feelings come to mind? Joy? Relief? Are you proud of yourself?

Now, take that list and convert each accomplished goal into something to be grateful for. For example, if you completed a book you’ve always wanted to write, that is the accomplished goal. Next to that, you might write, “I am grateful that God blessed me with the ability and talent to write well.” Do this for all five complete goals.

From the list of things for which you are grateful, create your own personalized gratitude prayer. This exercise allows you to recognize the progress that you’ve made and to express gratitude for the opportunity to have met your goals.

Keep this prayer in a designated space and pull it out and recite it whenever you feel as though you have become stagnant. It will remind you to be grateful for the progress you have made in your life as you continue to press towards the mark.

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Have a wonderful autumn; we will be in touch with you for the winter 2011 issue!

Graciously Free Spiritual Formation Group
P.O. Box 5757 - River Forest, IL - 60305