On Sunday 18 September our Reader Christine spoke about Holy Cross Day.
To many the sign of the cross is a symbol of hope, peace, comfort and strength.
As Christians we possibly think of forgiveness, salvation, resurrection, hope and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
I remember quite a few years ago now walking towards the Longfield from the car park and I was stopped by a man I didn’t know (at first I thought it was one of those people who did surveys in Prestwich, but I realised he didn’t have a clip board or anything). Out of the blue he just said, “I see you’re wearing a cross, why? Is it just for fashion?”
I’ve got to admit at first I was a bit taken aback and thought what’s that got to do with you and felt it’s quite a personal question to ask a complete stranger.
But I answered nevertheless and just said quite simply, “because I’m a Christian.”
He then said, “Why wear a symbol of one of the most horrendous and cruellest forms of Roman execution?”
I have to admit, it made me take a step back and think, yes, it was one of the worst methods used for execution, but I answered, “because it reminds me of the sacrifice Jesus made for me and the effort I should try to make to follow him.” At this point the gentleman in question, smiled and went on his way. I have never seen that man again and probably wouldn’t know him if I did, but that encounter made me think more deeply about the sacrifice Jesus made and the power of the cross.
Jesus died to save us.
It’s quite an awesome thought that Jesus died not just for the people of his generation, but for the people before him and for future generations to come, because no matter how hard we try we all sin at some time. However, understanding the depth of this forgiveness and the freedom it offers is a process that only God can help us with day by day.
Salvation, hope and resurrection all part of the power we associate with the cross. We can’t have hope without salvation and we can’t have resurrection without forgiveness.
Paul knew that to find salvation he would have to give up his old life and become obedient in the same way that Jesus became obedient even to the point of death on the cross.
We all know that to commit ourselves fully to follow Jesus can be difficult and that living a Christian life just is not as free as people think.
We know what we should do, but it’s not always easy to do it and we can sometimes be literally fighting against ourselves.
And using a quote from a resource I have puts the words to describe this more elegantly than I can.
“God takes the life of every Christian and by a miracle of grace crucifies them with Christ on the Cross. We can’t work it out with our limited minds, but the Bible says that we were ‘baptised into his death.”
Today during the service, two children will be baptised using the sign of the cross and we will hear the words, “We thank you Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit…..”
If we speak to people about the resurrection of Jesus, you can be sure to start a discussion about how this could take place and every alternative that has been thought up about what happened.
As Christians we believe in the resurrection, we believe that through the power of the cross the Holy Spirit lives in us and we live in Christ. His death is our death and to know that Christ now lives in us is our daily hope, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me”, (Galatians 2: 20)
“The power of the cross is for every believer,” as we remember “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life………………… God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16-17).
Our challenge now is to put ourselves in the right place where the Holy Spirit can guide us through prayer, scripture and worship. Where we can be examples of the sacrifice Jesus made for us in our lives, in our homes, at work and in our community so that the world might be saved through him.
And as the children are baptised into our church family here and receive the sign of the cross we believe that Christ will be in them and their families as he is in us.
Let us pray:
be within me to strengthen me,
without me to preserve, over me to shelter,
beneath to support, before me to direct,
behind me to bring back,
round about me to fortify
in Jesus’ name,
Christine Hardy Reader, ©St. Margaret Church, Prestwich & St. George Church Simister.