Greetings in the Name of our loving Lord, Jesus!
Last weekend we celebrated "Holy Cross Day", an ancient festival which began, as tradition remembers, when Helene, the mother of Constantine (in the early 300's), "found" the true cross just outside of Jerusalem, and the Church of the Holy Seplucure was built on that site.
But beyond that, it is a day to remember the "crux" of our faith: that God, in love, having created this universe, anguished over the brokenness of our sin; that God, in love, entered our world, taking upon God's own self our brokenness and pain; that God, in love, took that pain to the cross, to God's death, to the tomb; that God, in love, was raised, and even death was conquered; that God, in love, continues to breathe this grace and forgiveness into our spirits. Alleluia!
It doesn't make sense. Our culture believes that you "fight fire with fire", that you stop violence with violence. But St. Paul states in the first chapter of 1st Corinthians, "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....we proclaim Christ crucified...for God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength."
Of course, the cross is not the key - it was just the wood upon which God was nailed. Jesus is the key, the One who made sure we would know God's love. But that cross, whether it is the symbol in worship, or decoration worn around the neck, draws us into the truth of God - that God did what we could not do, that we are gifted, loved, blessed, guided, and restored in relationship with this God - by God's amazing love!
So, let me encourage you to make this sign (yes, right now, where you are) over yourself, to remind you of this unconditional love and your baptism into this love. With your hand, touch your head (in the Name of the Father), and then your breastbone (and of the Son), and then each shoulder (and of the Holy Spirit, amen). Martin Luther, in his Catechism, taught us that this is how we should start each day, reminding ourselves whose we are, and that we are loved.
Let us pray...Holy and amazing God, what a gift you give us in your love! We praise you for your sacrificial love on the cross, out of the tomb, and through the baptismal water and the blessing of Holy Communion. Open our hearts this day, that we may not only know we are yours, but that others may see this love in what we say and do. Thank you! Amen.