I have this cross hanging on my mirror in my car. It's a small silver cross with a oval piece of turquoise in the center. It's very simple. I got the cross at a little bazaar when I was in Baghdad a few years ago. I had been shopping for a little keepsake from my visit and I was sure this would be a place to find something unique. There were stones and gems and trinkets and money with Saddam Hussein's face looking sternly back. But in all of the trinkets something caught my eye, a little silver cross.
I probably paid too much for the cross. I didn't really haggle. (Insert Monty Python line here.) But I remember thinking about how interesting it was to see a cross in Muslim city which used to have a thriving Christian community just a few decades ago. The image of a cross in what was then a war zone also appealed to me, I'm sure. To me, it was tangible link to my faith in a place where Christianity was unpopular. It was a sign of Hope in a place where little hope to be had, for both our soldiers and Iraqis. Possibly, it reminds me to hope in the most difficult situations.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - The First Amendment.
When I think of Christianity in Baghdad, I think of Muslims in America. I think of freedom of religion and how it is one of the true strengths of America. It's what truly sets us apart from many other nations. I think of the Christians in Baghdad or Christians in China and how they long for religious freedom. Here, religious freedom is protected and many faiths thrive. You may not like it and it may seem inappropriate at times, but freedom of religion doesn't mean we get to pick and choose the religions.
I'll keep my little cross, my sign of hope when things are tough. No matter how bad my driving is that cross is always hanging in there, offering me hope when I need it the most. Everyone should be able to reach out in faith...