Larry and I recently sampled a sliver of chocolate at Trader Joe’s called a “Dark Chocolate Crisp.” It’s as thin as a Lays Potato Chip but wow! Was it powerfully chocolaty strong! We both commented that it was so rich we would easily have any chocolate itch scratched. And if you know me, you know I’m a chocoholic. Just give me the chocolate and no one will get hurt! We had to buy the package!
That incident came to my mind as I’ve been reading The Mystery of the Cross: Bringing Ancient Christian Images to Life by Judith Couchman (InterVarsity Press). Each short devotional is so rich it makes you feel like you’ve had a full meal of eating in the Lord’s presence. Judith’s book is a unique one. It has 40 fairly short devotionals about various aspects of the cross throughout history and especially of the cross of Christ. Although this book would be a particularly impactful one at Easter time, don’t wait until then to feast from its richness.
I don’t think I would have ever thought about someone writing a book about the history of the cross or that it could be so meaningful, but Judith succeeds in bringing out rich textures about the cross. And if you’re one who loves history and/or art, you’ll love this book. But everyone will benefit from it. I appreciate history and art but I’m not a fanatic. This book makes me want to enjoy the history of many things. She makes you realize how many threads are involved in the history of something and that’s how this book makes you think about the cross. There’s so much more to it than just the cross Jesus died on. She certainly covers all the aspects of what we know about that cross from the Bible, but there’s so much additional related information she includes. In fact, fascinating information. Like the Standing Stones of Callanish in Scotland that are arranged in the configure of a cross. These standing monoliths rival the Stonehenge in England. And she includes a photo of the Scotland monoliths.
Here are the section titles which give a good overview of the book:
Part One: Ancient Echoes of the Cross: The Cross in Pre-Christian Times
Part Two: The Pain and the Glory: The Cross and the Suffering Savior
Part Three: Early Signs of Faith: The Cross and the Early Believers
Part Four: The Great Conversion: The Cross and Early Religious Freedom
Part Five: Daily Signs of Salvation: The Cross in Ancient Everyday Life
Part Six: Ways to Worship: The Cross in Early Church Life
Part Seven: Enduring Mysteries: The Cross and Its Eternal Power
I highly recommend Judith’s book. I know it will be a blessing to you as it has been to me. Judith is the author of over 40 books, Bible studies, and compilations. She also teaches art history part time at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS).
You can purchase it at your local bookstores, online booksellers, or at the publishers website: www.ivpress.com. The retail price is $17.00 but many online sellers are offering it at discount.