Corrie Cross Controversy

Just as in the time of Paul writing to the Corinthians, the cross is seen as a stumbling block... (See I Corinthians 1 verse 18)
Hot on the heels of the story about the church that decided to take down a sculpture of Jesus on the cross outside the building, comes a story today about a wedding scene in the ITV soap Coronation Street where the cross inside the sanctuary where it was being filmed was hidden for fear that it might offend some viewers. They had originally asked for it to be taken down completely but found it was bolted to the communion table, so, instead they obscured it by an elaborate candelabra and flowers . I might stop watching in protest, if it weren't for the fact that I stopped watching around 25 years ago.

A spokesperson for Corrie says "we chose the church because the characters of Molly and Tyrone wanted a traditional religious church wedding service in a quintessentially English church" - without a quintessentially Christian symbol of course! Needless to say this has sparked a lot of anti-immigrant comments, because, of course it is all the Muslim and Hindu immigrants who are flooding the media with complaints about Christian symbols in churches on TV. I can't wait to see what the headline writers in those bastions of Christianity, the British tabloids, make of this...

But actually it's rarely people of other faiths that have the problem, nor those who have a coherent opposition to organised religion... But rather those wishy-washy "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual and why can't we all just get on together because we're all the same really, and that cross isn't really important to you is it, but it is likely to cause offence to 0.00001% of our viewers for the nano-second that it is in shot" brigade...

In many ways the experience of this Coronation Street wedding is similar to many experiences that I have had "negotiating" with photographers, videographers and florists in the run up to weddings (and lets not even go near my experience of the "mistress of ceremonies" that I had at the wedding I officiated at in Grand Rapids in the summer... I still haven't gotten over the trauma of that!). More than one has asked me to move lecterns, Bibles, baptismal fonts, and even the communion table on one occasion. All have been graciously but firmly resisted. None have (yet) asked me to remove a cross, but it is only a matter of time.

Had I been the Rector of St. Mary's in Nether Alderney, Cheshire where the episode in question was being filmed, I think I might just have done a "Jesus in the temple" on them, but given the minutiae of the filming contracts you have to sign in advance of these things (we had a film crew on site earlier in the year ourselves) he probably didn't have a leg to stand on...

The Rector's response is that he is going to use the entire £4,600 fee on a hand crafted silver processional cross... And there is a certain poetic justice in that, although I wince at such a sum being used for something that doesn't take the Kingdom of God any further than the front door of the church, but rather will be carried round in circles within the church walls. A symbol of the fact that while we honour the cross inside the walls, the rest of the world hasn't a clue what it is really all about.

Time that we started to articulate clearly what it is about... not simply an optional piece of church furnishing (with or without attached Son of God), or a piece of jewellery worn to prompt religious discimination litigation (with or without attached precious or semi precious stones), but a symbol of the place where time and eternity, justice and mercy met... And God opened his arms to us, as a groom opens his arms to his bride...


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