“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died …” I am sure all of you will be familiar with these opening words of the hymn by Isaac Watts. We often sing them on the Good Friday Walk of Witness or elsewhere on that solemn day. Why am I writing about the Cross in September? – because it is the month in which we keep Holy Cross Day.
During the reign of Constantine, first Roman Emperor to profess the Christian faith, his mother Helena went to Israel and there undertook to find the places especially significant to Christians. Having located, close together, what she believed to be the sites of Christ’s crucifixion and of his burial, she then had built over them the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was dedicated on 14 September 335 A.D.
Today we keep Holy Cross Day on 14 September and it has become a day for recognising the Cross in a festal atmosphere that would be inappropriate on Good Friday. The Cross is celebrated as a symbol of triumph, as a sign of Christ’s victory over death, and a reminder of his promise, “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)
The symbol of the cross is central to our faith. We are marked with it in baptism and confirmation and are free to make it’s sign during worship. We wear crosses around our neck and see them adorn even the plainest of church buildings.
This month may we rediscover the glory of the cross; through the victory of our Lord, may we die to ourself and experience the fullness of life offered by the one who held nothing back for us and for our salvation.
Yours in the faith,