Monday, September 17, 2007

Feast of the Elevation of the Cross

Yesterday we celebrated the Elevation of the Cross at church and it is one of my favorite feast days of the year because of the beauties in God’s house. It is the day we celebrate our Lord’s transformation of the cross from an object of humiliation and barbaric death to an object of victory and veneration!

St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:18 ) “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” Thus, we look upon the cross and see love, humility, grace, inspiration and triumph over the Enemy’s chains.

On this particular Sunday, there is a procession of the cross through the sanctuary; a standing cross is placed upon a bed of crimson flowers and carried by our priest, held high above his head. The altar boys, deacon and assistant priest follow the procession around the pews and back up toward the iconostasis. The choir is chanting, the incense is wafting upward and the morning sunlight is illuminating the high stained-glass windows. Here are rich beauties that speak to the body, mind and spirit; here is worship involving all thy senses.

Since I am currently reading Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ, about his trials and survival in communist prisons during the 20th century, I recall our prosecuted brethren in hostile countries during this service. As the procession goes up onto the altar, Fr. Scott gently places the cross and flowers onto a table. Then he and Fr. Andrew kneel down with heads to the floor, then up, with hands raised toward the heavens while praying. The choir is rapidly chanting some lovely verse that I did not recognize and the first prayer from Fr. Andrew’s lips is : Bless our President, our civil authorities, our armed forces and those who seek freedom everywhere, May God remember them in His heavenly Kingdom.

Indeed. May God awaken us daily to pray for those who sacrifice so much to grant us freedom; May God awaken us to help alleviate the suffering of those who would have joy in reading Scripture or just gazing upon the Cross, even from a dark prison cell.

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