Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have You Taken Up Your Cross Today?

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9.23

The call of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to each of us to take up our cross daily is a call to a life of sacrifice and service to others in the Name of Jesus Christ. It is also a foreign call for us in America – a society built upon freedom and self-promotion above all others. How can we reconcile the call of Christ to take up our cross with living in America? This is a call to martyrdom in a contemporary setting of skyscrapers and internet cafes.

Each year in September our Church calls our attention to the Cross of Christ as a symbol of life. The cross has been a source of confusion for many, and some even refuse to display it because they see only death rather than life. For us Orthodox Christians it is a sign and source of life. On September 14th each year the Church celebrates the Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross found by Saint Helen in 325AD. According to Church history, Saint Helen, in search of the Cross of Christ, found it lying among debris. It was found along with two other crosses causing Saint Helen to wonder which the Life-Giving Cross of our Lord was. Inspired by Saint Makarios, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a woman at the point of death from disease was nearby. Once the woman touched the Cross her health was restored, revealing not only that this was the true Cross of Christ but also revealing its healing powers bestowed by God. It was in response to this miracle that Saint Makarios elevated the Cross in the Church for all to see – thus the Feast’s name “Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross.”

This is the same Cross that Christ asks each of us to take up daily for Him. We are expected by our Lord to die to the world in order that we may live with Him in Heaven. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it,” says the Lord. (Matthew 16.25) How do we lose our life for Christ in 2012? The answer is simpler than you might imagine…

To take up our Cross for the Lord is to crucify our will for His will. Every time we act; every time we think; every time we speak; we are called upon by God to act, think and speak according to God’s will rather than our own will. Does God desire for us to bring our tithe (10% Stewardship) to the Church? (Matthew 23.23) Then we should obey Him. Does God desire for us to care for the poor and needy? (Matthew 25.35) Then we should obey Him. Does God desire us to worship Him and pray to Him without ceasing? (1 Thessalonians 5.17) Then we should worship and pray at every opportunity. Does God desire for us to be reconciled with each other? (Matthew 6.14) Then we should obey Him. And He expects us to do this DAILY if we want to follow Him to heaven.

Do you want to follow Jesus Christ to heaven? Then obey Him and take up your cross DAILY and follow Him. Please join us in worship on Friday, September 14th at 9am for Divine Liturgy in honor of the Feast of the Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is also a day of strict fasting and prayer.

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