We look to the cross and our neighbors as signs of God’s love and healing in the world.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
The Feast of Holy Cross
Texts: Numbers 21: 4b-9, John 3:13-17
They needed a sign.
Journeying through the wilderness away from everything they knew, experiencing pain and exhaustion and grief and loss, trying to figure out how to be in community with each other, learning what it means to be God’s beloved.
The Israelites needed a sign to show them that God was really with them and that God was going to lead them into the Promised land. They needed to know that there was a future beyond the dry dangerous desert they were living in.
First, they needed food and then manna and quail fell from the sky. They ate their fill and continued on with their journey. A sign that God was listening to their plea. But it wasn’t enough.
Eventually they needed water so they complained to God until water poured out of a rock. It sustained them for a part of their journey but it also wasn’t enough.
And then they needed safety and healing, so they got a serpent on stick. A visual reminder of God’s presence and protection that was with them and leading them on their journey. But it still was wasn’t enough.
No matter what happened in the wilderness, the people of the Triune God, struggled to trust that God was really going to lead them into an abundant life. And to this day, the people of the Triune God continue to search for signs of God’s presence in our wilderness journeys.
Especially as we see and experience death and destruction and sin and suffering all around us. Looking for signs that show us what is good verses what is evil, signs that point us to rest and nourishment, signs that lead us into lives of service and love.
Just like the people who were wandering in the wilderness, we too need signs of God’s love and presence in our lives and in our world.
So on this day, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Cross to remember and discern how Christ’s sacrificial love and transformative power on the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s enduring love, care, and presence in our world.
Christ incarnate born into our world in an unexpected place, teaching us a new way of life that puts love and grace at the center of who we are and what we do. Christ on the cross, taking on all of the sin and suffering of the world, so that we may hope and trust in abundant life, both here on earth and in heaven.
Christ’s death on the cross is a sign of God’s self-sacrificing love showing us that oppression and injustice, suffering and illness, destruction and death went to the grave and out of the grave came abundant life and love and forgiveness and healing.
The cross is our sign that God comes to us in our pain and brokenness and transforms us into people who embody God’s love. Not because we are perfect or we’ve done all the right things, but because of who God is and the promise that God has made with all of creation.
John writes, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may not perish but have abundant life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17).
The promise God continuously makes throughout scripture to never leave us or forsake us is shown to us through God’s love on the cross. The cross is the ultimate sign of God’s enduring and steadfast love for each and every one of us.
And God’s love doesn’t just stay on the cross. God’s love resurrects and enters into our lives and becomes woven into the DNA of who we are as God’s beloved. Living our lives holding onto the promise God makes with us in our baptism. Taking seriously that through our baptismal waters, we embody the cross of Christ on foreheads for everyone to see.
That through us God is actively working in the world feeding and nourishing, serving and loving, caring and healing. Each of us as the body of Christ resurrected in our communities to do what we have been created to do. To Love. To Heal. To Forgive.
So when we feel like we are perishing, struggling to discern where God is active in our lives and communities. We look for the signs… in creation, in art, in music, in each other, in the unexpected, in the pain and suffering. We look to see where God is entering our humanity in order to bring wholeness.
And when our seeking eyes and discerning minds our weary, we come together with open hands and open hearts to Christ’s table clinging closely to the promise of Christ. Feasting in the meal in remembrance of Christ. A sign that will nourish us and transform us and a sign that will continue lead us into abundant life here and now and with all the saints forever and forever.