A few months ago, during worship, as the congregation was standing and singing together, I noticed something. My friend, Alan Nesbitt, a music teacher who often leads singing for our church, had his tuning fork stuck in his belt. He wasn’t leading singing that day, but he still had his tuning fork with him. My first thought was gratitude at seeing his commitment to his craft and willingness to use his gifts to bless the church. My friend is a gifted musician and he could probably lead singing without his tuning fork, but he was prepared. A second thought was this: could the tuning fork be a lens for considering the cross and how we carry it as Christ’s disciples?
I pictured the cross as a tuning fork – at the death of the Messiah, God plants it in the earth, like a tree, with sound waves reverberating out from it and across the universe. That image of the cross as a tuning fork has been resonating with me lately. Maybe that’s also a way of thinking about what it means to carry our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). By carrying our cross with us, tucked in our belts, tucked in our hearts, we’re able to stay in tune.
New Testament scholar, Michael Gorman, states that “the cross is not only a Christophany (a revelation of Christ’s identity) but also a theophany (a revelation of God’s identity). Furthermore, the cross is also an ecclesiophany (a revelation of the church’s identity in Christ and God – what it means to be the church) and an anthrophany (a revelation of human identity – what it means to be human)” (Participating in Christ, 30). I realize that quote probably has some unfamiliar terminology, but it summarizes well the ways that the cross reveals the soundness and similarity in what’s best in God’s world. As this tuning-fork-cross resonates across creation, if we have ears to hear, then we can hear how God, Christ, the Church, and humanity can be in tune, in harmony.
As our family talked about this image recently, we realized that when Jesus suffered (and when his church suffers), it’s like the powers of this world are hitting the cross-shaped tuning fork. But instead of putting a stop to the music, striking the cross-shaped people of God actually sends out the sound even louder. You can’t stop a tuning fork from resonating, or reverberating, by hitting it. The only way the evil powers win is by convincing us to give up and give in and put down our cross-shaped tuning forks.
Seeing the cross, or better yet, hearing the cross as a tuning fork is a way to equip our imaginations to think clearly about suffering. It is a way that has resonated with our family and I think it could be a helpful way of thinking about what it means for the church to carry her cross. May we train our children to consider suffering differently. May we be a people who stay in tune with the Savior, whether in seasons of success or suffering, allowing the message of the Messiah to ring out through our lives into the world.
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