My Cross to bear?

Sermon for Sunday, October 28, 2018

Passage: Wisdom 14.1-8; Isaiah 33.22-34.1; 1 Corinthians 1.18-24; Matthew 24.27-36

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen 

Խաչն կենարար որ եղեւ մեզ փրկութիւն,
սովաւ ամենեքեան զքեզ բարեբանեմք:

Որ ի Հօրէ լուսոյ լոյս ճառագայթեալ ի յերկրի
եւ գաւազան զօրութեան հաւատացելոց,
սովաւ ամենեքեան զքեզ բարեբանեմք:

Որ լուսափայլ ծագմամբ հրաշափառապէս մեզ ցուցաւ
ի յօգնութիւն ընդդէմ թշնամւոյն, սովաւ ամենեքեան զքեզ բարեբանեմք:

The lifegiving cross, which for us became salvation,
Together everyone glorifies.

Which shows the light of the father shine upon the earth,
And is the staff of power for those who believe,
Together everyone glorifies.

Which with great radiance showed us that against our enemy it is our aid,
Together everyone glorifies.

flat,1000x1000,075,fThese are the words, sung by the faithful and by the clergy during Holy Week and Easter and any feast that pertains to the Holy Cross of Christ. It is a long line of beautifully created hymns that have been rooted in deep theology for the Armenian Church. And it magnificently describes what the cross of Christ is for us, the cross that we are remembering today. In the Gospel of Mark we read of Christ telling us to “pick up our cross and follow him.” (8:34) And many people read this passage as bearing through suffering. How many of us have even said about one thing or another “this is my cross.”

If there is one thing that unites us all regardless of age, wealth, health, skin color, politics, etc. one unifying factor is that we have all in some shape or form suffered. We have felt pain whether through sickness. We have felt betrayal from friends and family. We have felt alone. And the words of the Gospel have in some way helped us, because we have accepted pain as the cross we must bear. However, my dear brothers and sisters I ask, are we certain of the cross we carry is truly the cross we have been given?

When St. Helen came to Jerusalem, looking for the Cross of Christ, the cross was discovered in a field or graveyard of crosses. As we know, during the Roman times, crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment and because the Romans did not believe in who Jesus was, they naturally just threw away His cross. So when Queen Helen and her entourage searched for the Cross, they had an idea on how to identify the Cross of Christ. Tradition says, with some differences, that at that time a funeral procession was going by, and Queen Helen requested that the body of deceased be placed on the different crosses. Who could refuse the Queen? And so the body was placed on each cross one-by-one. Nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened. And then when the body was placed on the Cross of Christ Jesus, the person was resurrected from death and the Cross of Christ was discovered. And this is the feast we celebrate today, the discovery of the Holy Cross.

And it may be strange to ask, but though we each claim to be carrying our Cross and we pray that God help us carry our Cross, how many of us have truly prayed to discern if the cross we carry truly is the one given by God for us or is it a artificial cross we have made for us? There are any types of sufferings and pains in this world, but through St. Paul’s teaching especially in Galatians we see that much of these sufferings are because of our own sinfulness and not something given by God for us to carry. When we are filled with jealousy, hatred, anger, envy. When we become judgmental towards one another, or when we fill our lives with fornication of body and soul. We look for our future in coffee cups and our protection by a blue ceramic eye. When we persist on our own desires and ways, with no regard for those around us. And when the world doesn’t smile back we say “woe is me.” These woes are not the cross Christ speaks of. This is not the True cross we must bear. If our pain, our suffering is not done so by the virtue of God, then our cross, as heavy as it may feel, is not one we are called to carry. Our cross is discovered by separating us from sin, by denying our sin and temptation from us through Christ, through repentance, confession and humility that our salvation or freedom from true suffering is only through God our Father.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us truly examine our lives and the cross we carry. Is it a cross that as the hymn says, shows the light of the Father, protects us from evil and is life-giving? For the Cross of Christ is the ladder by which we rise up, the cross of Christ is the Altar on which our sins are sacrificed upon. I have mentioned in the past that if you turn a cross upside down it is a sword. Is that sword used to strike others down or is it used to defend others. Let us continue to pray to discover the true life giving cross in our own lives and may we bear our cross with joy in our hearts and follow Christ in every way. Amen!



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