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St. Paul writes that the death of our Lord on the Cross is always a very part of our own lives- "10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (2Co 4:10 NKJ) If we carry the "dying" of the Lord Jesus we carry the cross with Jesus on it (the dying) inside of our hearts.    It is important to know that we never separate the Cross from the Resurrection- we cannot think about one without thinking of the other, whether or not we image Him on the cross or not. So the Cross is intimately connected to the Resurrection- whether or not the cross is empty or not.     Here is a prayer that is typical that is said in the Divine Liturgy.  "In that we have beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us bow down before the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One.  Thy cross do we adore O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection do we praise and glorify. For Thou art our God and we know none other besides Thee and we call upon Thy Name; o come all ye faithful, let us adore Christ's holy Resurrection, for lo through the Cross is Joy come into all the world."  This expresses the intimate connection between the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord.  The important proof of the resurrection is that the tomb is empty (not the cross)  It is the empty tomb that is a sign of the resurrection, not the empty cross. 


 In the Holy Communion we also commemorate the cross as we partake of the Lord's crucified,  resurrected and glorified body.  St. Paul writes in Corinthians 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1Co 11:26-29 NKJ).  


So therefore, we usually have Jesus on the Cross in the Church, as His crucifixion becomes our crucifixion.  Our Baptism is a participation in His Crucifixion as we die with Him and are raised into eternal life with Him.  We experience heaven in a preliminary but very real way here and now.  It is only through the cross that we can enter into this Chrisitan reality.  Again, it is not an empty cross that saves us but Jesus dying on the cross.  You should also know that on Great and Holy Friday we take down the body of Jesus from the cross and place it on the altar, which represents the tomb.  It remains off the cross until HIs ascension into heaven- so we do recognize the empty cross as a historical event. For 40 days we display an empty cross in our church to commemorate this historical reality.


So ultimately it really does not matter whether the cross has an icon of Christ on it or not, just as long as we know that love has been poured out on the world and humanity has been restored, because Jesus ascended the cross, spread out His hands, and willingly submitted to death on it.   We must not only view the cross with Jesus on it but we must unite with Christ on the Cross in a way that internalizes this very crucifixion, and make it our own. St. Paul writes  14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14 NKJ)    I hope this helps.  

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