Monday, September 13, 2004
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God to attain that state wherein we freely cease from fighting. ....Whoever rightly attains to it, does in some degree feel that Spirit in which our Redeemer gave His life for us. (John Woolman)
Behold, behold, the wood of the cross,
on which is hung our Salvation;
O come, let us adore! (Liturgy of Good Friday)
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You,
for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.
O my Lord, Messiah and (truly!) King,
You have been lifted up, and have triumphed.
You Yourself mend our lives, and draw us to Yourself,
and make Yourself our greatest yearning, greatest gift.
We who lifted You up from the earth ---
not far, not nearly to the sky, let alone the heavens ---
intending only evil; or not intending at all, "just following orders,"
just another execution in a busy day
It was for us that You took everything we gave,
that You offered Yourself, unresisting,
(and You, our Messiah and Lord, are God;
You had the power to save Yourself)
so that when we had done our very worst
Your forgiveness and Your triumph would rescue us,
very thankful and truly humble.
We know what we have done.
We know of what we are capable.
We look upon Your cross
and our sin remains before us,
we cannot ignore the truth of ourselves.
We deny You.
We are cowards and run away from You.
We drag You all over the city, from courtroom to courtroom.
For You, our King, we weave a crown of thornbush to force upon Your head.
We beat You. We mock You. We parade You through the streets.
We disdignify You, stripping You of everything.
And, clothed only in welts and bruises and Your own blood,
we nail You to a cross to torture You to death.
Our sin is always before us,
so also is Your mercy,
so also Your forgiveness,
so also Your great offering.
And, in time's fullness,
the sign of Jonah ---
even Death itself is conquered, vanquished;
so we might proceed from life to Life true and eternal,
Life that knows no end.