The Way of the Cross

Friday, September 14, 2012 — Week of Proper 18

Holy Cross Day

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer)

EITHER the readings for Friday of Proper 18, p. 983

Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)

Job 29:1, 31:24-40

Acts 15:12-21

John 11:30-44

OR the readings for Holy Cross Day, p. 999

Morning Prayer: Psalm 66; Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:11-17

Evening Prayer: Psalm 118; Genesis 3:1-15; 1 Peter 3:17-22

[I read the lessons appointed for Holy Cross Day]

Serpents and snakes have a rich place in human imagination. They play major roles in our mythological, dream, and symbolic language. Cold blooded and bound to the earth, threatening yet phallic. It is an ancient symbol of evil and death as well as life, healing, and fertility.

When fiery serpents threatened the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses made a bronze image of the serpent, raised it up upon a pole, and everyone who looked upon it lived.

Whenever we are able to take our deep and often unconscious fears and threats, raise them into the light of consciousness, and look at them with rationality and faith, we become more mature and conscious, more congruent and less compulsive.

John’s Gospel imagines Jesus as the light of the eternal Word of God which descends out of timelessness into time and out of spirit into flesh to become human. (We get the words “human” and “humus” from the same root.) Divine loving acceptance revealed in a human earthy life.

In the crucifixion, Jesus takes evil and death upon him in a vivid and public spectacle and is raised upon a pole in full view. Our ugliness is exposed to light; our darkness is revealed to conscious sight.

Jesus accepts our darkest evil and our deathly fears without flinching, raises them into the light of full conscious view, and returns to us only love and acceptance. This is the acceptance that can disarm us from our compulsions, save us from our fears, and heal us from our brokenness. If we are willing to have even our most unconscious deeds exposed, (“Ah, holy Jesus, …I crucified thee.” Hymn 158) our darkness comes to light and we are given resurrection life, healing, and the fertile fruits of the spirit. This is the way of the cross.

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16)

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