Thursday, September 18, 2008

Exaltation of the Cross 14.9.08 Sermon

Exaltation of the Cross 14.9.08

Today we exalt the Cross, that is, we honour it, give thanks for it, in every way try to grasp and express how important it is to us.

We are led to think of the Cross under two aspects. As it was on the original Good Friday and how it affects us now.

The epistle today reminds us of how momentous the Cross was in its original form. How many people would have expected God Himself to come down from Heaven even to be with us in any form, let alone to allow Himself to be executed as a criminal? Gods just don’t do that sort of thing!

(Even still the Cross is a barrier to some in believing in Christianity. It is a ‘scandal’; it just does not fit their expectations.)

Yet come He did, and allow Himself to be taken and crucified He also did.

We honour Him for that. St Paul goes on to explain that God the Father honoured Him by raising Him from the dead and all the way into heaven.

We honour Him in His resurrection and ascension, but we also honour Him in His crucifixion and that is the point we emphasize today.

At the time people laughed at Him and mocked Him. They said things like, He could save others; let Him save Himself. They reasoned that if He stayed on the Cross He was weak, and therefore not worthy of their respect. Whereas, if He came down from the Cross He would be powerful and invite respect.

What they did not understand is a point at the heart of God’s eternal plan – that He would make of Himself a sacrifice for the sins of mankind and then offer that sacrifice to Himself, thus reconciling humanity to God.

To do this He had to stay on the Cross; He had to see it through to the end. We honour Him for doing that. We say, Well done. If anything was ever well done this was. We could not express enough gratitude or appreciation for this event if we applauded and cheered for the rest of our lives.

He welcomes our adulation but He also wants something else – our imitation. He wants us to live the Cross ourselves. We do not just look at the Cross from a distance but rather from along side of Our Lord. We are on the Cross next to Him, more like the Good Thief.

The Cross is still happening today, in that Christ if being crucified in His members.
(Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?)

This is very difficult for us because it involves suffering. On the other hand every time even one disciple endures some pain on behalf of Christ... be glad when they persecute you ... it is a triumph for that disciple and for all of us, because it is making present the Love of Christ in our time.

Every blow received by Our Lord or by one of His disciples translates into Love, and Love heals. The more they load onto Him the more Love He shows in enduring it and the greater the fruit of the sacrifice.

If we are His disciples we join Him on the Cross. We change from crucifiers to crucified.
We become victims with Him, and this is helping to complete the process of salvation.

The more people on the Cross the better, the less people mocking the better. We must be one or the other.

Eventually the sufferings of Christ will be completed. The last nail will have been driven home, the last drop of blood shed.

Until then we exalt the Cross for what it means, for what it did, and still does in our time.