03 April 2020

The Sign of the Cross in the Holy Place

Everything hinges on the Cross of Christ Jesus.  Life, the universe, and everything — indeed, all of time and space — are centered in the Cross of Christ and find their heart and meaning there.  Heaven and earth and all that is in them, all of creation, and your life, too, depend on His Cross.

None of these things can properly be understood apart from the Cross.  Nor will any of it survive apart from the Cross.  Every bit of it is either put to death by the Cross, in order to live, or judged forever outside of the Cross, unto eternal death.  You either die to live, or you're living to die.

The sign of the Cross is a mark of the Church on earth and of the Christian life in this world.  Not simply as a piece of jewelry or a work of art, nor only as a pious personal ceremony, appropriate as such things are.  It involves tribulation and suffering within and without, the daily dying of the old Adam by contrition and repentance, and relentless persecution by the devil and the world.

You have been taught to love and adore the Cross of Christ Jesus, and it is meet and right so to do.  But for all of that, the Cross remains an abomination of desolation in the Temple of God; for it is the full realization of the curse of sin and death, and of God’s righteous wrath and just judgment.  It is the Cross that desecrates the old, in order to make all things new in the Body of Christ.

Such is the paradox of Christianity — the paradox of God Himself — which is entirely foolish and counter-intuitive to the wisdom of sinful man.  It makes no sense at all to you apart from the preaching of the Gospel, which is the forgiveness of sins by the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus.

That is why your crucified and risen Lord Jesus sends His messengers to you now — as He will send out His angels on that great and terrible Day.  He sends His servants to gather His elect from the four winds, to call disciples from all the nations — all by the way and the means of His Cross, by His Word of the Cross, which is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Meanwhile, there are no lack of false “christs” and false prophets, who go out into all the world preaching a false “gospel,” proclaiming false promises that are not grounded in the painful Cross of Christ Jesus, but dependent on seemingly impressive signs and wonders.

Do not listen to them.  Do not be misled.

What is more, do not horde or grasp or cling to any of the wealth and wisdom of this world.  Even the Lord’s good gifts and blessings of your home and family must finally give way and be let go.  Indeed, all of nature, the heavens and the earth, the sun, moon, and stars, all of it will pass away.

Repent of your idolatrous fear, love, and trust in whatever is not God.  Repent of whatever is not Christ Jesus, crucified and risen.  For only Christ and His Word of the Cross remain forever.

It is His Cross, remember that.  Your life and salvation do not depend upon your suffering and death, but on His.  It is not what you bear and carry, but His Holy Cross and Passion, His innocent suffering and death, which have fulfilled and established all of creation — and your salvation.

His Cross is laid upon you, therefore, in love by the Lord your God, not to crush and destroy you, but to save you and to give you life by His grace.  So does He also feed you here with the fruits of His Cross.  Here your sins are forgiven, so that, by His tribulation, you abide in His House forever.

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

No comments: