Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lift High the Cross

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred Name.

For the secular world, September means “back to school” and a return to routines often devoid of deep satisfaction or purpose. For Anglican Christians, each September 14 means we commemorate the Holy Cross of Christ. This Feast reminds us that the Cross of Christ is joyful, glorious, and life-giving.

Each newborn soldier of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died.

Whenever we come to Holy Cross Day, I start hum the tune to the hymn “Lift High the Cross.” It reminds me that the Cross of Christ is to be borne everywhere in the Christian’s life: nothing, not even death itself, is “immune” to its presence and power. It is a strong hymn, but not a overbearing one. Its words are a call to action…but action of a very particular sort. We are being urged in these words to “lift high the cross” in every aspect of life. With God, there is no “private” or “public” life. There is only the risen life in Christ—and that life frees us to live as fully as possible.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

So, here are some thoughts on “lifting high the cross” in the course of daily life as we may our pilgrim way to God:

Lift High the Cross in Worship: When the processional cross passes by, we bow to it as a sign of veneration for what God has done for us in Christ. Our worship of God is not some sort of repetitive sleep-walking exercise but a conscious sharing in the will and energies of the Trinity.
  • Prepare for Sunday by examining your conscience before God.
  • Come to worship expecting God to speak to you.
  • Open up your whole self to God in worship, holding nothing back.
  • Recognize Christ present in all those gathered for worship
  • Refuse to keep your worship of God locked up in the church building.

Lift High the Cross at Home: Remember—a Christian’s home is a form of church
  • Honor Christ by honoring those around you with respect and compassion, not bitterness or a sniping tongue.
  • Forgive others as you desire them to forgive you.
  • Apologize.
  • Talk with others, don’t isolate yourself via television, computers, or other technology where we become vulnerable to evil images and messages.
  • Pray to God at the start and end of each day.
  • Keep the memory of God alive through the day by calling upon him for aid in matters great and small.

Lift High the Cross at Work: Don’t check your faith at the workplace door.
  • Ask God’s blessing when beginning any work.
  • Pray for people—especially those who irritate you—don’t condemn them.
  • See the Christ in co-workers, bosses, vendors, &c.
  • Do your work not for human beings, but for God.
  • Live a vocation from God, not just a career for money you cannot take with you.
  • Let God transform what is seemingly pointless into opportunities to live and share the Gospel…with words, if you must.

Lift High the Cross in your Neighborhood: Christ came into—and acted with resolve and compassion in—the re-life “neighborhood” of Israel
  • Become an active part of your own or the St. Timothy’s neighborhood.
  • Consider participating in events offered at the parish with Hoover School.
  • Pray for people and circumstances you know need strength, healing, and protection.
  • Learn to see your life experience as a gift for the benefit of others, not hording it to yourself. Take time to get to know people as individuals, breaking out of the isolating and “cocooning” habit of our time.
  • Be aware of injustice in your neighborhood and prayerfully seek ways to bring the Cross of Christ into the midst of it.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee.

This year at St. Timothy’s we are thinking a great deal about pilgrimage as we prepare to send another Journey to Adulthood group off on their pilgrimage. In a sense, all Christian life is a conscious pilgrimage of taking up our own cross and following Christ Jesus—something we express in each procession in the Liturgy, led by the Cross. Taking up our cross is not punishment for the Christian: it is a privilege. Following on the pilgrimage with Christ leads to ever-greater peace, holiness of life, joy, contentment, and delight in the will of God the Father. It is this joy that allows us to lift high the cross in whatever way and whatever place is required.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred Name.

May it be a September of renewed pilgrimage and joy in the Christian life for us all!

In Christ,



  1. Thanks for a thoughtful reflection, Fr. Brandon. Here at Saints Peter and Paul, Portland, we will observe Holy Cross/Santa Cruz on Sunday the 15th, as our "homecoming", with a bi-lingual mass and potluck meal. This has been our tradition for several years and we look forward to it!

  2. Thanks, tlbw. Your parish tradition sounds very good, and one worthy of emulation. I'm going to look into it for next year here! Blessings on this holy feast, and on the year of parish ministry ahead!