In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
Today we celebrate Elevation of the Life Given Cross of Our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Cross, the symbol of our victory, a protection that is always available to us in the struggles for salvation of our souls. The Cross of our Lord on which He manifests His absolute love to humankind thru the suffering that He willingly accepted for the salvation of many.
For us Orthodox Christians it is not just some subject of veneration but rather Divine light that enlightens our souls and all our lives. From the very beginning of our earthly journey, as we were baptized we receive a cross, as protection and symbol of belonging to People of God. In the course of our life, all our personal prayers and all sacraments that we receive in the Church, have that same symbol. After we will leave this militant church, the cross will be staying in our graves. Why is that? How come that this symbol is so important to us? Because this Divine light protects us during our life, and also after the death protected by the power of God. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1Corinth.1:18)
The Holy Church established this day of celebration of the Holy and Life Given Cross in year 335, after construction of the Church of Resurrection in Jerusalem was complete and the cross of Savior was elevated inside of the church. But we commemorate on this day several events from history of the cross. The cross was elevated for the short period of time with the crucified Savior on it, changed the World and was buried, hidden from us.
St. Helen Equal to the Apostles and St. Makarious miraculously found the cross in the year 326, and so the cross was elevated to the people and Grace of God was reviled thru the miracles. The same cross was in Jerusalem and many people came to know a True God. We also commemorate the miraculous return of the Cross, after it was taken from us for fourteen years from the year 614 to 628. But by the Grace of God we would always get it back, so that we would continue to grow under the protection of it, and gather around it the flock of the Lord.
In our today’s troparion we sing, “ save the Lord Thy people and bless Thy inheritance.” What a blessing is given to us, what a privilege, are we really worthy to be called His people and inheritance? With that great power of the Cross, symbol of freedom and victory, we also receive guidance and responsibility. We receive knowledge of how to deal with our own crosses and follow The Lord. “ If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Be not afraid to lose your life for His sake. Let’s rejoice and be thankful to the Lord, for what was once a weapon and symbol of the death, has become a weapon and symbol of salvation for us. Let’s come and venerate The Holy Cross with fear and joy. With fear, because we do know how wicked is our nature. With joy because we know, and believe in the power that was given to us by the Cross of Salvation.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! Amen.
Fr. Dmitri Belenki
St. Nichols Church