Posted by Rich Lubbers on April 13, 2017
Carol Kellison is someone who is detail-oriented, focused, and maybe just a little bit different. It's no surprise that the metallic Russian Orthodox cross that she brought is similar. It is a cross with three cross beams, with a fair amount of ornamentation close to the bottom left of the right panel of the cross display.
It has three cross beams on it, each representing something different. The top bar represents the placard that hung above Jesus stating that He was the King of the Jews. The next cross bar was where his hands were nailed. The bottom cross bar was slanted, representing one thief who would be descending to Hades, while another would be ascending to Paradise. There are angels, a sun and moon, a spear and sponge on a stick, and even a skull incorporated into the imagery. And of course, because it is Russian Orthodox, it has Jesus still on the cross. It incorporates important phrases from Slavonic to remind the person walking by of who Jesus is and what Jesus did.
She said that her husband, who studied Russian, bought it approximately 20 years ago as the political reformation movement known as perestroika related to glasnost and Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power. As Russia restructured its economy and became open to the West, he purchased something that would eventually hang in their living room.
Some time later, a foreign exchange student from Moldova named Dennis came to spend time with them, and he too was familiar with this kind of cross. He would tell stories about how the church he was familiar with would greet people on Easter with "He is risen, He is risen indeed," much like our churches do today.
At the same time, Dennis told of how this three-barred Russian Orthodox cross was only largely symbolic in everyday life. Theirs was a very formal practice of faith, with much reverence for religious objects and icons, but he didn't see much change in how people lived. He seemed to wonder if such a formal faith was as real as it claimed to be.
I wonder what you'll think about whenever you walk by!