April 2, 2010 § 1 Comment
The cross is a good topic for a Good Friday reflection.
I always look forward to the Good Friday service at St. Luke’s. I love hearing the Passion from John chanted, the Solemn Collects prayed, and that strange part of the liturgy we usually call the adoration of the cross. (It’s the part where the cross is held up and we are all invited to come forward and reverence it.) I can remember hearing many of my fellow parishioners discussing this part of the service: how it was strange, how they felt self-conscious about doing something so publicly, how it seems so Roman. I had never really though about it much since it was not so far from my experience growing up where the priest would push a crucifix (a cross with the corpus on it) up to your lips on Good Friday to be kissed. I can also remember going with my grandmother to the Orthodox church for Good Friday and the genuflections there have you on your knees with your forehead touching the ground. Well, it got me to thinking and I researched this whole adoration of the cross liturgy. I discovered that this part of the Good Friday liturgy is one of the most ancient parts of this service. It dates back to at least the 4th century with the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine, we know this since the adoration is memorialized in the work of Egeria that wonderfully juicy 4th century pilgrim. It seems that Saint Helen had found the actual cross of Jesus in Jerusalem and so now it was possible to actually be near the cross. When you read what happened in Jerusalem so long ago it could almost be a description of what happens at St. Luke’s now: “They stop down over it, kiss the wood and move on…Thus all the people go past one by one.” Now as a good Anglo-Catholic, anything good enough for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is good enough for me!
The cross is everywhere in the day to day life of the church. Its image appears on almost everything; books, linens, letterhead, buildings, and even around our necks. But what do we mean by adoring the cross? For me it’s a realization of the reliance on the one who hung upon the cross; it’s the humbling of myself before the mighty acts of God; it’s the taking of my place with all the other Christian faithful at the foot of the cross. It’s not so much thinking this in my mind and feeling it in my heart, but actually doing it with my body every Good Friday.
– Sean Scheller
Today is Good Friday. St. Luke in the Fields liturgy will be held at 1 p.m. Stations of the Cross will be held at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. For the complete holy week schedule, please visit our website.
Image: Cross outside the Church of the Sepulchre, John Spier via Creative Commons