The Cross...often it seems that we just bring it out at Easter, and then only Jesus lays down His life there. Yes, we wear them around our necks as our "brand." Rancho Christos. We sometimes make the Sign of the Cross, invisibly drawing the Triune God over our heads and chests, but this has little to do with death, that gruesome death our Savior suffered.
And yet, not just our Lord was crucified. The Romans liked this brand of death sentence in the way some of America likes the lethal injection. Two criminals died beside Jesus that very day. Other people were crucified before Jesus, and still others after. The cross is not just for Him.
Of course, the big difference with the brutal slaying of Jesus was that He did it willingly, freely, to call His people back to Himself. Oh, and He came back from the dead 3 days later. We like the Resurrection. We sing about it, we celebrate it, we participate in it through baptism. How do we so easily forget about our participation in the cross, though?
The Cross calls to us as Christians. We are called to put off the old self, to die to self. We follow our Lord, even to our deaths. Here in America, there is little that we could call persecution. Even the Christians who boycotted Walmart for not saying, Merry Christmas, would have to agree with that. We are not going to jail or literally dying because we call Jesus our Lord. To claim that would be to steal the glory of God given by our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who bravely give up everything as martyrs for their precious faith.
But we are still called to the cross, still called to die.
As we descend beneath the water's surface, we reaffirm our willingness to die to our old self. We leave the oxygen world behind to return to the watery womb. In that moment, everything is right. In the quiet, there is God. In our obedience to His call for baptism, there may even be a whisper heard, "Well done." Then we burst above the water in our new birth, as new people, a cleansed people. We cannot be who we were. We are now dripping with Christ resurrected.