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Monday, September 15, 2014 – Holy Cross Day (Transferred)

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

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalms 66 (morning) // 118 (evening)

Numbers 21:4-9

John 3:11-17

The cross is perhaps the most heavily interpreted symbol in the world. It can signify God’s presence with us in suffering and eventual triumph over evil, like the cross formed from the debris of the Twin Towers. It can represent our commitment to offer our whole lives in the service of justice and peace, like the crosses that some people wear around their necks. And it can express Christ’s desire to “draw the whole world to himself” (as today’s Collect puts it), with its four arms extending in every cardinal direction from the rooftops of churches around the world.

It’s always tempting to add another layer of meaning to the cross. However, our readings this morning asks us to simply lift up our eyes and look at the cross rather than examining and interpreting it. Instead of burdening the cross with meanings, we could use today to explore the effects of simply gazing at a cross.

Our first reading suggests that looking at the cross might have some medicinal effects. When God’s people were bitten by venomous snakes, God instructed Moses to make a serpent out of bronze and put it on a pole. Anyone with a snake bite could look up at that bronze serpent and live. Perhaps by looking up at the cross, we too can experience debilitating toxins leaving our system.

The gospel passage this morning makes direct reference to the first reading, saying that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” The Son of Man, lifted up for all to see, communicates God’s deep love for the world and God’s purpose not “to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved though him.” Perhaps by looking up at the cross, we can experience the weight of condemnation lifted off of our shoulders.

Instead of trying to think through or dissect the imagery and symbolism of the cross, what might happen if we took some time today simply to observe a cross, to notice the incidental crosses in our midst, to let the cross attract and embrace us? Healing and liberation might be waiting for us at the next intersection of two lines.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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