Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sermon: Wittenberg Academy – Holy Cross

14 September 2021

Text: Col 1:24-2:7

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Today is Holy Cross Day, one of the oldest feasts of the church.  It dates back to the fourth century when St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, went looking for a relic of the cross of Jesus, and was searching for the location of the crucifixion.  Constantine ordered a church to be built on the site.  And it is fitting, for what greater glory emanates from Golgotha than the true body and blood of Christ at the altar, the sacrificial Lamb Himself, being made manifest for us Christians and given to us to eat and to drink for our salvation?

St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, mentions “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to the saints.”  He also refers to this mystery as “the Word of God fully known.”  And this Word is Christ incarnate, dear friends.  But not merely Jesus in the flesh, but in His sacrificial flesh, offered for the life of the world! 

St. Paul also refers to “how great a struggle” that he endures in his ministry.  And indeed, all Christians in their vocations struggle in their Christian faith and life.  It is part and parcel of being a disciple.  For our Lord was blunt about it: to be a Christian is to bear the cross, to take up that cross, and to follow Him: the Crucified One.

The cross is the beating heart of our faith.  It is the intersection of the vertical and the horizontal, a symbol of man’s inhumanity and cruelty, of sin and death – but also the symbol of God’s love for us poor, miserable sinners, and His atoning sacrifice for His fallen creation – all by grace without any merit in us.  The cross is the site of the cosmic transaction, that “happy exchange” in which our sin was traded for His righteousness.  The cross is why the Friday before Easter is “good,” and why Easter Sunday was possible.  The cross is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, when God told the devil that the Seed of the woman would crush his head.

And so let us joyfully take up our crosses, dear friends, knowing that in Christ, our burdens are light, and it is a labor of love to take what little we can upon our own shoulders for the sake of obedience and gratitude to our Lord, and in love for our neighbor. 

Let us continue to glory in the cross, joining with the poet who confessed:

 Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,
Be for all the noblest tree;
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thine equal be;
Symbol of the world’s redemption,
For the weight that hung on thee!


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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