I think every church building should be constructed in the shape of a cross. The old Medieval cathedrals got it correct. When the Church – which is its people – gather we are reminded that we are one body on a cross, the first century’s most fearful instrument of torture and execution, served up in this case by the Empire that was in Rome. (Make no mistake: Every age has its empire.)
I’m careful here not to use the word punishment. We are one body on a cross, not because of anything belonging to guilt or shame or because we’ve done so much wrong that we deserve to be punished. We are one body on the cross because we bear the sufferings of loving the world in precisely the way Jesus did. That’s what they mean, I now realize, when they call the crucifixion the Great Humility. We serve the world as one body and like Jesus we serve ultimately in ways for which we will be executed, in most cases for us here in the US not literally, but certainly in just about every other way.