This September, for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I share with you this image of the largest fragment of the True Cross of Christ in existence. It is a special treasure of the Xeropotamou Monastery on Mount Athos, in Greece.*
In honor of the feast, let's ask our kids, why the Cross is so very important to us as Christians?Why do the enemies of Christ, the demons, cringe at this sign?
After reading a bit from Elder Cleopa, I am reminded of an event in the Old Testament...Read out loud together Numbers chapter 21. "The LORD said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived." Numbers 21:8-9
The faithful of that generation were offered a sign of hope, and for us today as Christians, we too are given a means for our salvation. For the New Testament fulfillment of this event, read John 3:14-15 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Imagine a real, tangible sign, sanctified by God for us who are in the world amidst so many visuals that tempt our eyes. Ask your kids how they feel when they see the sign of the Cross in public somewhere?
If you are a Christian, you are strengthened,you rejoice, and think of God who offers us the ultimate gift of eternal life. But if you are against Christ, you cringe. To give you a few examples, in the country of Turkey, the Red Cross must be called the "Red Crescent" to avoid any relation to Christianity. Elder Paisios, if I'm not mistaken, said that other countries have banned planes from flying over their lands because of the shadow they cast on the earth below: a cross.
Why? Because this sign is the symbol of the power and the victory of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:18
For Orthodox Christians, the Cross brings forth joyfulness and regeneration to all who carry it, wear it, or exalt it. May you and your families be filled with encouragement this September as the Cross is processed and we chant, "O Lord Save Your People through the Power of Your Cross."
*A smaller fragment of the True Cross of Christ can also be found at the Greek Orthodox Seminary Holy Cross in Boston, MA.