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Archive for September 14th, 2016

One of the earliest annual celebrations of the Church, Holy Cross Day traditionally commemorated the discovery of the original cross of Jesus on September 14, 320, in Jerusalem. The cross was found by Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. In conjunction with the dedication of a basilica at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the festival day was made official by order of Constantine in AD 335. A devout Christian,Helena had helped locate and authenticate many sites related to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus throughout biblical lands. Holy Cross Day has remained popular in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Many Lutheran parishes have chosen to use “Holy Cross” as the name of their congregation. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)

The Jewish new year and the Eastern Orthodox liturgical years begins at this time of the year.  We also our approaching harvest time. This is a quite appropos tradition as the year really begins when school, college and university begins anew! Ask many a Mom or Dad! New students, matriculation, studies, that is education continues.  We also celebrate today the Holy Cross.  In school,  minds and hopefully even souls are educated in this change of season.  We give thanks to the Lord for the harvest.  Needless to say, we urbanites and suburbanites, are insensible to the rhythms of seed-time and  then harvest. But Holy Cross can remind us the Lord will bring in His Harvest by His Sacrifice upon the cross:  hearing, learning and growing in the good news of forgiveness once and for all. Jesus Christ is the grain of wheat planted, dead and alive (See  John 12:24 ) The cross is like a shepherd’s staff by which He gathers us to Himself.  (See John 12:31-33).

In the 13th century,  when St Bonaventure was in great repute, teaching theology in Paris, and attracting a general esteem and admiration by his works, St Thomas Aquinas went one day to see him, and requested him to show him what books he used for his studies.

Then Bonaventure, conducting him to his little chamber, showed him some very common books that were on his table. But Thomas gave him to understand that he desired to see the other books from which he derived so many marvelous things.

Bonaventure  then showed him a small prayer chapel, with nothing in it but a crucifix: “There, Father,” said he, “is all my other books; this is the principal one from which I draw all I teach, and all I write.”  If my tongue does not teach and preach according to Christ and His Cross, and the Law of God, then the tongue is like rudder steering the ship in the wrong direction, like a bit that does not guide the horse, like a spark that simply inflames with fire, all heat and no light.  No human being can control the tongue, James wrote.  He knew Who controls the tongue to teach, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things “(Philippians 4:8) and finally and fully the center of all human history:  the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah for Jew and Gentile. Way too much of denominational preaching and teaching, then practice,  only  points to ourselves, instead of the Lord and His Sacrifice, His redemption, creation and sanctification. Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are only in the background, left behind:  

Jesus Christ does not “lead from behind”!  Cf. Hebrews 12:1-3. The actual painting by Cranach which I redid above is this:

This is the actual painting of Holy Cross Day:  for us and for our salvation He came down from heaven. Only His redemption can harvest souls to be taught His Word.

In the Orthodox Church this day is called, “The Exaltation of the Holy Cross”.  This does not necessarily mean an easy triumphalism or a theology of glory.  It is the exaltation of Jesus Christ and not to be ashamed of His sacrifice for us all, for the whole world (see Romans 1:15-17,  Hebrews 12:1-3) and preach and teach Christ. What the worldlings exalt in this sin-soaked world, which our Old Adam applauds,  can not compare to the exaltation of His love for sinners (see Romans 5:7-9) .   We need education not merely to know but to serve as we have been served. A blessed Holy Cross Day!

“Lift high the Cross, the love of Christ, the love of Christ proclaim, till all the world adore His sacred Name.

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