Dear friends in Christ,
Tomorrow the church celebrates Holy Cross Day. On one level, this feast day commemorates the finding of the true cross in the fourth century. But at a wider level, this is an opportunity to give thanks for the cross – an awful yet glorious instrument of our salvation.
My sense is that many of us have domesticated the cross at some level. It’s easy for familiarity to tame our shock. I’m not a fan of sensationalist, bloody attempts to depict the cross, but maybe they have a place. For my part, whenever I feel like I’m losing the plot, I imagine an image of Jesus strapped to an electric chair, or standing there in front of a firing squad. It’s repulsive. And that’s not a bad reaction to contemplating the execution of our Lord and Savior.
Of course, horror isn’t the whole point either. Our horror at the death of Jesus Christ for us is a path toward grasping the magnitude of his willing sacrifice for us and for our salvation. It’s only God’s extravagant grace that could do such a thing.
In other words, we’d be missing the point if we just saw the cross as a horrific means of execution. And we’d be missing the point if we treated the cross like an item to add in our Christian décor. This day is an invitation to us to see the cross for what it is: the place where God’s great love meets the depths of human sin.
On the cross, we see God’s love for us poured out. We see a God who is not remote and uncaring, but who loves us so much that our Father sent his only Son to give his life for us. And I hope we hear Christ’s own invitation to us to take up our cross and follow him – to be willing to join in God’s sacrificial love.
The collect for the day puts this all beautifully. Let us pray:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
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