The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

My Photo
Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bound by the cross

I recently chatted with a woman who called herself a "cradle Methodist. "

I had heard of Cradle Catholics, and thought it was good alliteration, as well as a descriptive phrase for someone who was “born into the faith” – though, I such claims. Rarely, if ever, had I heard the phrase Cradle Methodist.

But, then again, I wasn’t a cradle anything.

While I was baptized at the age of 13 in the Baptist church where my Uncle Russell was a deacon, I didn’t make a firm commitment to Jesus Christ until the age of 29.

It was then that I was marked by the Cross and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Have you been marked by the cross?

Have you drawn so close to Jesus Christ that you can not only see the nail scars in his hands, and the pierced hole in his side, but you can also see the lines on his face?

Many of us began this journey on Ash Wednesday, when we took the sign of the cross as a sign of identification, that we are bound together with Christ and his sufferings.

We look to the cross and remember that he suffered for us, that he died for our sins, that we might be reconciled to God.

Do you see constant reminders of the Cross?

A mentor and good friend during the early years of my faith journey was Dick Pace. Our young families lived next door to each other and were even in Sunday School together.

Dick and I had this ritual of cutting firewood every summer and fall.

In that first year of my Christian journey, I began to notice the sign of the cross in places where I had never noticed it before – such as utility poles and trees. Man, I saw crosses everywhere!

I mentioned that to Dick and he just grinned and said something to the effect of having new eyes to go with a new heart.

When the cross is implanted in your heart, there are constant reminders. There are reminders in places I am only now discovering.

Ripshin is the name of a lake on which our family cabin sits. It’s also the place where I committed my life to Christ on Easter Sunday, 1985.

During the early spring summer months on Ripshin Lake, the shrill call of small frogs can be deafening. You know, the ones that are called “spring peepers.” All winter long, they lay silent, even frozen solid under grasses and leaves at the edge of marshlands. When the warm air of spring thaws their cold bodies, they shout a chorus of spring and life.

It’s only appropriate, given that the name for spring peepers is hyla crucifer, or “Bearers of the Cross.”

On each small back is found the sign … of … the … cross.

I recently read that God has placed other cross-bearers within nature; for instance, there is the crucianella, or “Crossworts,” or “Little Crosses,” so named because of the arrangement of their leaves. There are about 2,000 cross-bearing plants, or cruciferae, within nature. Some of those plants include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, radishes and turnips.

And then there is the Rose of Jericho, or Resurrection plant, that is found arid areas such as Texas, Mexico, El Salvador, much of South America, and Egypt, as well as Arabia and Syria. (Thanks to Lawrence Nelson.)

We speak of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ; his selfless, redemptive death and the resurrection. The Rose of Jericho is a paschal plant, in that after the rainy season in these dry, arid areas, it dies and dries up, curling its stems into a tight ball, which protects the seeds and prevents them from being dispersed prematurely. The seeds of the Resurrection Plant can lie dormant for years, but when rain finally returns, the branches of the dead plant spread out and a fraction of the seeds are dispersed by raindrops.

The Resurrection Plant has four-petaled blossoms that open in the shape of a cross.

God marked Creation with the sign of the cross … if only we have eyes to see it.

A few weeks ago, I heard Luis Giglio preach during a worship event with Chris Tomlin and Matt Reman, both of whom are popular songwriters of contemporary praise and worship music.

Giglio and Tomlin are both from Texas and have led worship together for some time, most notably in what are called Passion Conferences.

Last year, the duo came through Knoxville on what was called the “Indescribable” tour. Somehow, I missed that event. But that was OK, because Giglio did a recap of his message on this “How Great Is Our God” tour.

Giglio used Psalm 33:6 in attempting to describe just how big our God is compared to the universe.

The psalmist writes, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

Our God is so big, he breathes out stars — stars that are way bigger than our sun. I mean, way bigger. Compared to Earth, the sun is enormous! It contains 99.86% of all of the mass of the entire solar system. The sun is 864,400 miles (1,391,000 kilometers) across. This is about 109 times the diameter of Earth. The sun weighs about 333,000 times as much as Earth. It is so large that about 1,300,000 planet Earths can fit inside of it. Earth is about the size of an average sunspot!

Giglio pointed out the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51, which is about 30 million light years away from this speck of dust in the universe that we call Earth. The distance across the Whirlpool Galaxy is about 27 kiloparsecs (or, 90,000 light years).

There is this image taken of the core of the Whirlpool Galaxy from the Hubble telescope. In the center ... is ... a ... cross.

And so, Giglio keeps showing these stars, these mammoth creations, comparing our little tiny sun to these gargantuan stellar objects, saying stuff like, “If the earth was a golf ball, you could put so many of these in our sun; and so many suns could be put in canis majoris; and if the earth was a golf ball placed next to such-and-such star, it would be like putting a golf ball at the base of six Empire State buildings, stacked one upon another.”

He just overwhelms you … which … is … his … goal.

The God who breathes out stars … cares for you and I … who are like specks on a golf ball. So much so, he gave his one and only Son … who loved us enough to die on the cross.

There are these things called “meet-and-greets” after an event such as that one. And Giglio says that at the very last stop on the “Indescribable” tour, this guy comes up and asks, “So … where ya going next?”

“Well, I’m going to a church outside Atlanta where I plan on talking about how God created this complex human body …”

“What are you going to say?”

“Well, gee, I’ve still got nine days to put it together.”

At that point, the guy gets all animated and says, “You’ve got to tell them about Laminin!”

“Laminin?” Giglio says.

“Yes, laminin!”

And the guy proceeds to tell him that he’s a molecular biologist.

“Go back. Google it. Then tell them about laminin.”

So, Giglio goes home and Googles laminin. Because, he wants to know what’s got this molecular biologist all excited.

As it turns out, laminin is the molecule that binds cell membranes together … It literally holds our cells together. It’s the bonding agent of life.

And molecular biologists diagram laminin … in the shape ... of a cross.

Sisters and brothers, it is the cross that holds us together.

Physically … and Spiritually. We are bound together … by the Cross.

It’s all around us.

It’s the glue that binds us to God … and to each other.

Grace and peace ...