Just recently I was having dinner with some friends and we began to share our images of God. The image of God that most people around the table seemed to have was of a God who is in control and governing the world's way through history.
This God is omnipotent, all powerful, all seeing and all knowing. While that may be true there is another image of God that I think Lent particularly invites us to reflect on. It is the image of the incarnate God who hangs on a Cross: vulnerable, broken, bleeding.
According to the law of Moses, anyone who was crucified was thought to be cursed by God and outside the realm of God's love and mercy. What Jesus was doing by dying on the Cross was identifying with everyone who seemed to be beyond redemption and showing us, if we have eyes to see, that God is somehow right in the centre of the mess and suffering in our lives and in the world.
The truth is that no one and nothing is outside the realm of God's mercy. God's love is limitless and available to anyone – even those who appear to be on the outside, even those we categorise and label and judge.
The Cross stands as a beacon for those who suffer the pain of rejection and isolation. It is an invitation to those whose shame crucifies them that all is not lost. The Cross hangs over the world as a reminder that the heart of God is open for all.
Richard Rohr, the American spiritual writer, says that "this is somehow saying that God suffers and our suffering is also God's suffering, and God's suffering is ours (Colossians 1: 24). That has the power to transform the human dilemma of tragedy, absurdity and all unjust suffering – which is just about all suffering."
So this Lent take time to focus on the Cross and what it means for us as individuals and for the human race as a whole. It is the good news that now and forever God has redeemed us in Christ and that no one is beyond the realms of His forgiving love.