We visited the Catholic church on Monday in nearby San Isidro. The building is very old and historic. The construction of the church started in 1895 and finished in 1952. The stained glass windows are beautiful... they were brought in from Austria. The artwork and details of the church are amazing; I can't imagine how long it took to do it all with a paint brush.
BUT what captured my attention about the place was the deep sense of sadness. All the images of Jesus carrying the cross or nailed to the cross gave me a sense of defeat and grief. The prayer candles, wash basins and prayer benches caused me to feel the seriousness of the traditions that are held onto so tightly.
Why keep Jesus on the cross when he has risen and defeated death? Why dwell so much on the cross, it's only half of the story? Why bind yourselves to traditions that promote guilt when in Christ we have freedom? The theme of victory, forgiveness and joy were absent from the building.
I found some great verses in Colossians 2 (one of my favorite books) that answers the questions above:
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority... 13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (NLT)