14 September 2009

Holy Cross Day

"We adore You, O Lord,
and we praise and glorify Your holy resurrection,
for behold, by the wood of Your cross,
joy has come into all the world."
-- LSB Altar Book for Good Friday

From the Treasury: "One of the earliest annual celebrations of the Church, Holy Cross Day traditionally commemorated the discovery of the original cross of Jesus on September 14, 320 in Jerusalem. The cross was found by Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. In conjunction with the dedication of a basilica at the site of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, the festival day was made official by order of Constantine in AD 335. A devout Christian, Helena had helped locate and authenticate many sites related to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus throughout biblical lands. Holy Cross Day has remained popular in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Many Lutheran parishes have chosen to use "Holy Cross" as the name of their congregation." pp. 721,2

The collect for the day, remembering that our Lord was lifted high upon the cross to bear the sins of the world and draw all people to Himself, asks "that we who glory in His death for our redemption may faithfully heed His call to bear the cross and follow Him."

The Verse for the day: "Far be it from me that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

On whose hard arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world's ransom hung,
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

O tree of beauty, tree most fair,
Ordained those holy limbs to bear:
God is thy shame, each crimsoned bough
Proclaims the King of Glory now.
LSB 455:4,5

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,
Be for all the noblest tree;
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thine equal be;
Symbol of the world's redemption,
For the weight that hung on thee!
LSB 454:4


Father Robert Lyons said...

In the last decade, I've become very uncomfortable with this feast day, partially because it smacks me of celebrating a relic of dubious origins, and partially because of my utter aversion to having the State and the Church intermingle.

So today I'm commemorating St. Cyprian of Carthage (per the BCP I use). I've always been suprised, given the nature of this commemoration (which, I realize, commemorates far more than just the 'Invention of the Holy Cross') and its connection to potentially fraudulant relics, that Lutherans widely include it in their litrugy books (I say include in books as opposed to celebrate only due to the comments I have heard here and elsewhere about the neglect of the Lesser Festivals in many Lutheran circles).


William Weedon said...

It gets celebrated a bit when it falls on Sunday. I think the key is to realize that for Lutherans, as I wrote just today on a friend's blog:

I would say that the purpose of the feast in Lutheran Churches should be to glorify the wisdom and power of God in choosing what appears to us to be the foolish and weak cross upon which to defeat our enemy and to bring us an everlasting salvation. Thus, we gather to hear the Gospel of the Cross extolled, to sing to and adore the Crucified and Risen One, and to receive into our bodies through the Holy Eucharist that self-same Body and Blood which upon the Cross wrought an eternal victory for us.

Past Elder said...

Well, the feast is an ancient one indeed, but, when you're the emperor's mom with unlimited access to state money to go out relic hunting, pretty much anything you do in that regard is an instant big deal when your son runs the church too.

A witness more to the power of the crown than the power of the cross.

The feast isn't about the cross per se anyway, it's about the "finding of the true cross", and, to listen to our good brothers from the East, getting it back from the Persians too. And a fast day there too, not to bring all that up again here. You can wish that all away and morph it into something better, but them's the facts. We're supposed to be big on facts rather than pious legends.

So I'd say save the veneration of the cross for Holy Week.

Besides, it's not in the TLH calendar, and if it ain't in TLH I ain't doing it. (I don't really mean that, it was just to get PTM going till he reads this far if he still reads me at all.)

Father Robert Lyons said...

Past Elder,

Agreed with your assessment; though I have to say that, given Pastor Weedon's explanation, it sounds like at least he has the right spirit about it.


Sean said...

I did work on a few stanzas to get a more accurate translation, here are a few of them (these are composite, drawing especially from J.M.Neale):

On the sin of our first parents
looked our maker in pity
eating noxious fruit they tumbled
deep in death and misery
then another tree was destined
man from punishment to free

Thus the scheme of our salvation
was of old in order laid,
that the manifold deceiver's
art by art might be outweighed,
and his tool of laceration
into means of healing made

In the nar-row man-ger ly-ing
weeps the in-fant in the night
Whom His vir-gin moth-er Mar-y
wraps in swad-dling clothes of white
and God's hands and feet and mem-bers
in the cloths she cinc-tures tight

Thir-ty years a-mong us dwell-ing
His ap-point-ed time ful-filled,
He was born to meet His Pas-sion
and to face it free-ly willed
On the cross the Lamb is lift-ed,
on that al-tar He is killed

There the nails and spear He suf-fers,
Vin-e-gar and gall and reed;
From His sac-red bod-y pierc-ed
Blood and wat-er both pro-ceed:
Earth and stars and sky and o-cean
by that flood from sin are freed

Bend, O loft-y Tree thy branch-es!
Thy too rig-id sin-ews bend;
For a-while the stub-born rig-or
that thy birth be-stowed, sus-pend;
And the King su-per-nal's mem-bers
gent-ly on thine arms ex-tend

Thou a-lone wast count-ed wor-thy
this world's Ran-som to sus-tain,
That a ship-wrecked race for ev-er
might a port of ref-uge gain,
With the sac-red blood a-noint-ed
of the Lamb for sin-ners slain

To the Trin-i-ty be glo-ry
ev-er-last-ing, as is meet:
E-qual to the Fa-ther, e-qual
to the Son and Par-a-clete:
God the Three in One, whose prais-es
all cre-at-ed things re-peat.

Faith-ful cross a-bove all oth-er,
One and on-ly no-ble tree,
none in fol-iage, none in blos-som,
none in fruit thy peer may be;
Sweet the wood and sweet the i-ron,
and thy Load, most sweet is He