Today celebrates the cross as a symbol of Christ’s triumph over death. The history behind this day can be traced back to the time of Constantine. Holy Cross Day is celebrated on September 14th because it was on this day in 335 A.D. that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was dedicated in Jerusalem.
The Sign of the Cross
Many Christian traditions use the sign of the cross as a physical act of prayer that brings to mind Christ’s sacrifice and the continuing call to discipleship. This practice has a rich history. Here is an extended quote from James Keifer explaining its historical and biblical significance:
“Tertullian, in his De Corona (3:2), written around AD 211, says that Christians seldom do anything significant without making the sign of the cross. Certainly, by his time the practice was well established. Justin Martyr, in chapters 55 and 60 of his First Apology (Defence of the Christian Faith, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and therefore written between 148 and 155 AD), refers to the cross as a standard Christian symbol, but not explicitly to tracing the sign of the cross as a devotional gesture… Continue reading Holy Cross Day 2017
Jacob deeply desired that God would bless him (Genesis 32:22-32). We can count on God to watch over those who love him with compassion and mercy (Psalm 17 and Psalm 145); Paul mourned that so many of the Jews did not acknowledge Christ (Romans 9:1-5). Jesus cares for our earthly needs and has power over all things, as evinced in the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). -Thomas Oden in Ancient Christian Devotional
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Pursuing the Kingdom of God with Patience and Trust
Jacob suffered wrong and sacrificed much to win Rachel’s hand in marriage (Genesis 29:15-28). Wisdom and fulfillment are often the fruit of patient waiting and righteous pursuits (Psalm 128 and 1 Kings 3:5-12). These things may seem out of grasp, but we can still trust God to fulfill his covenant and bring about his purposes in the end (Psalm 105:1-11 and Romans 8:26-39), even in spite of human oppression and unfulfilled desires (Psalm 119:129-136). Followers of Christ are called to seek God’s kingdom with all the faith they have, wisely pursuing what will last (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52).
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God Keeps His Promises and Saves His Children
From the beginning, God has kept the covenant promises he made to His children and their offspring (Genesis 28:10-19a). He knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139) and through His greatness has offered us mercy and hope (Psalm 86). The Holy Spirit bears witness that we are God’s children through Christ (Romans 8:12-25). All of the creation is waiting for Christ to come again and eradicate the things that destroy life (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). We wait patiently in the midst of suffering because, as the children of God, we have hope.
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Out in the rain a world is growing green,
On half the trees quick buds are seen
Where glued-up buds have been.
Out in the rain God’s Acre stretches green,
Its harvest quick tho’ still unseen:
For there the Life hath been.
If Christ hath died His brethren well may die,
Sing in the gate of death, lay by
This life without a sigh:
For Christ hath died and good it is to die;
To sleep whenso He lays us by,
Then wake without a sigh.
Yea, Christ hath died, yea, Christ is risen again:
Wherefore both life and death grow plain
To us who wax and wane;
For Christ Who rose shall die no more again:
Amen: till He makes all things plain
Let us wax on and wane.
Permit us not, O Lord, to hear your word in vain. Convince us of its truth, cause us to feel its power and bind us to yourself with chords of faith and hope and love that never shall be broken. We bind to ourselves today, you our God: your power to hold us, your wisdom to teach us, your word to give us speech, your presence to defend us, this day and every day; in the name of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and forever. Amen.
- The Story of St. Patrick’s Day – Veggie Tales
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- Reclaiming St. Patrick’s Day by Ted Olsen
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left….
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
The Great Litany prayer form dates back to (at least) the fourth century and is one of the great expressions of petition that is common in both Eastern and Western Christian traditions. Every service in the Eastern church begins with a form of these petitions in which the congregation responds: “Kyrie Eleison” (Lord have mercy). Thomas Cranmer and Martin Luther both highly regarded this historic prayer and counted it as an accurate reflection of the Christian’s total dependance on God for life and grace. Luther considered it to be almost as important to Christian worship as the Lord’s Prayer. These are ‘sturdy’ words that have held the weight of Christian lament in every generation. This cry to God for mercy is as appropriate today as it will be in the future. The version below is rooted in the tradition of Thomas Cranmer and is taken from the 1978 edition of The Book of Common Prayer. Go here and here for more background on the history and function of The Great Litany.
The theme of union with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is a common thread that runs throughout the history of great Christian devotional writing. Every stream within the Great Tradition has reflected on the meaning and means of union with God through Christ, as well as his call to, “…abide in me.”
Trinitytide worship is pointed towards the kind of life that reflects the love of the Trinity, the journey “…to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Growth in grace is a trek towards home, a return to the source and sustainer of life.
“The aim of man’s life is union (henosis) with God. This participation takes man within the life of the three Divine Persons themselves, in the incessant circulation and overflowing love which courses between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and which expresses the very nature of God. Here is the true and eternal bliss of man. Union with God is the perfect fulfillment of the “kingdom” announced by the Gospel, and of that charity or love which sums up all the Law and the Prophets. Only in union with the life of the Three Persons is man enabled to love God with his whole heart, soul, and mind, and his neighbor as himself.”
-Fr Lev Gillet (1893-1980) in Orthodox Spirituality: An Outline of the Orthodox Ascetical and Mystical Tradition