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As we go through life, things can become somewhat symbolic for us, especially if we see it or experience it in a particular context. Indeed, unless something explains it away, or alters our perception of it, that symbol sticks.
When I was a little boy, our family would go out to the farming community where Grandma and Grandpa lived, and several other great uncles and aunts, and we would stay out there and visit. I remember as quite a young boy, being impressed with how dedicated my great uncle Ernie was to his machinery. Grandpa could fix anything, but he never brought any of it in the house (Grandma would have had something to say about that….). But uncle Ernie’s fondness for his machinery was evidently so great, that he actually had a piece of his combine hanging on the wall of the foyer. It was a small length of the belt that drew the grain and the stocks into the machine to be separated. For many years I thought he had hung this piece of combine belt on the wall to remind himself of the importance of hard work or of the essential nature of that machine itself. It was only as a young teenager that I found out that it hung there, not as a symbol of work or machinery, but rather as a symbol of discipline, should his children misbehave. I was mortified, because, after I put two and two together, I realized what this meant, and he began to laugh. He said “don’t worry, I never used it.” “It never left the wall….it was just a symbol.”
In this sermon we explore how that which was once a symbol of the most horrendous and torturous death has now become for us a symbol of healing and life!