INTRODUCTION (from sundaysandseasons.com)
This festival, which originated in the fourth century, celebrates the triumph of the cross. Paul reminds us that Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God. As Moses put a serpent on a pole to be a source of healing for the Israelites, we lift high the cross as the sign of our health and salvation. Each time we make the sign of the cross we remember our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ.
Helena, mother of Constantine, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and found what may be the actual site of Jesus' crucifixion. Her son built two churches there, and the dedication of one of them gave rise to this celebration of our Lord's victory on the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:18–24
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
I'm wearing a cross around my neck right now - how about you?Take a look at it for a moment - hold it in your palm. Observe it. Let the image sink in. What are you looking at - really? Ponder that for a second. What have you got in the palm of your hand?
Gold, silver, wood? A cross? A crucifix? A symbol? A gift? An image? A reminder? A piece of jewellery?
What do you have in your hand?
OK, great, we'll return to that in just a moment.
Do you remember show-and tell from elementary school?
That was when one got to bring in something interesting and tell the class all about it.
For a couple of minutes you or the thing that you brought in got all the attention - all eyes were focused forward - because you never knew what might happen - especially since one of the most popular things to bring in, were of course, pets. Frightened Hamsters, mischievous gerbils, and the occasional indifferent but scary snake graced our classroom at one time or another as I recall. Squirmy pets make great escape artists - their brains might be small, but they understand freedom. A quick nip of an errant finger or twist of the body and then with a sudden bounce on the floor they were off! I recall one gerbil leading several dozen students and one very anxious teacher on a merry chase until at last she was apprehended behind a stack of reading books.
Now, what if someone asked you today about the cross around your neck - would you be ready for show and tell?
It might be easy to offer up how you came into possession of it
This cross, the one that I usually wear, came to me as a gift from my older sister, cast as a special design by a jeweller who incorporated a small diamond off of a ring that used to belong to my great grandfather. The gift celebrates both my 40th birthday and my 5th anniversary of ordination.
That tells you something about this cross as an object. A special possession. A gift. A connection with the past generations of my family. A treasured and unique heirloom. But the message of this cross - of THE CROSS - that to which this one points - still has not entered our conversation.
Paul says the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But you and I, claimed by Christ in our baptism, saved by grace through faith in Him, that same cross is the power of God.
The cross is the victory - notice that we do not wear empty tombs around our necks? Rolled away stones? Nope. We wear the cross. An instrument of a painful and humiliating death reserved for those who threaten the state. I know, you are wondering about the two thieves. Well, the word for thief in Biblical Greek is also the word for revolutionary. Ordinary thieves were not crucified. Jesus died in agony, but through the power of God the instrument of his death became the very instrument of our redemption. Our salvation. His victory on the cross becomes our victory, for death is swallowed up and its power over us, broken.
There was a woman who was a shut in member of the parish at which I served as vicar prior to coming to Trinity. She didn't get out much and couldn't do much. Arthritis was settling in. Yet every visit, each month when I came to bring her communion and pray with her and listen to her stories, she would hand me bags of crosses made from yard on a plastic frame. These I would hand out to folks during hospital visits and shut in visits. Hundreds of crosses, each plastic frame cut out, each one stitched with yarn. She knew the power of the cross and so she worked through the pain and produced them by the bagfuls.
To some, it is foolishness, to others, the very power of God.
What story does you cross tell? Whose story?
Is it yours alone? A friend's? A relative, perhaps?
Does it tell the story of Jesus and the very power of God?
If someone asked you about it - what story would you tell? Why?
Does the foolishness of the cross make fools of us all or just buy our silence or our flippancy?
Something to think about on this Holy Cross Sunday.
Updates and Upcoming
My endoscopy on Thursday turned up nothing new and pointed my summer emergency room visit squarely in the direction of my gall bladder. Arrangements are being made for surgery - should be quick and easy, routine.
I hope to see as many of you as possible for our Rally Day celebration this Sunday at 9:30AM in Charter Hall - remember that we have commenced our winter schedule with two services - one at 8AM and one at 10:45AM. We are still looking for volunteers to help out with the pumpkin patch (see Kathy Velelz - unloading is SAT OCT 4th at 5:30PM) and to share their talent at the talent show (Piper and I are going as a famous singing couple - SAT SEP 27th).
On Sunday OCT 5th Piper and I will open up the parsonage for coffee hour following the second service for an open house and house blessing. It is our small way of saying "thank you" for the recent renovations. The Blessing of Pets has been moved to SAT OCT 18th at 4PM and our services in commemoration of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month will by Sunday October 19th this year.
Ever in Christ