On Tuesday in Holy Week, my son Micah and I attended a one-hour class on first communion. Shepherd of the Valley, an ELCA Lutheran congregation in Apple Valley, Minn., aims this class at fifth graders. Others are welcome, however, including children younger than fifth grade who seem ready to receive the Lord’s Supper and have parental permission to do so.
The kids were full of questions about many different aspects of the Eucharist, from the grand-theological (Why did Jesus die?) to the nuts and bolts practical (Where do you get the bread?). After the questions were duly noted on a whiteboard, Pastor Randy Brandt ran through short answers to each one.
I’m titling this post “CSI: The Cross” because one question the children asked was, “How did the Cross cause death?” Pastor Randy’s answer was that, with the arms nailed to the cross-beam, it becomes increasingly impossible to breath. It is a slow death by asphyxiation — a form of torture that the Romans intended as a brutal deterrent to any rebellion against their occupying rule.
Palestine, under Roman rule, had no prohibtion against cruel and unusual punishment.