Thursday

even death on a cross.” (vv. 6-8)

Philippians 2 6-11 Thursday 14 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 22


Background

Today is Holy Cross Day, which may not be a familiar to those inthe Methodist Church. Its history is somewhat confusing, althoughit is traditionally linked to the dedication on 14 September 335 ofsome buildings in Jerusalem by Emperor Constantine - these weresupposedly on the site of the crucifixion and the tomb in whichJesus was buried. The building was supervised by Constantine'smother Helena and during the excavation of the site a relic wasfound which was believed to be the cross on which Jesus had beencrucified. The feast day was first observed by the Eastern Churchand then by the Roman Catholic Church from the 16th centuryonwards.

Today's passage seems to be the words of an early Christian hymnspelling out the humility and obedience of Christ. They reflect thewords at the beginning of John's Gospel that longbefore his human birth Christ humbled himself and exchanged hisequality with God to take up the nature of a slave by his ministryon the earth, a slavery which is completed in the humiliation ofhis death on the cross. From verse 9 onwards the words tell ofGod's action in taking him to himself and making him a person ofreverence and worship.

In more recent times the wider denominations of the ChristianChurch have begun to mark the festival, including the EpiscopalChurch in the United States who see it as an opportunity for a dayof prayer and worship of Christ triumphant through his resurrectedlife. The hymn Lift high the cross is particularlysignificant for a time of contemplation on this day.


To Ponder

  • To what extent are feast days such as Holy Cross Day of valuein concentrating the mind on a particular aspect of faith? Or arethey a phenomenon outside of the understanding of our moreprotestant faith? Why?
  • How helpful are the words of Lift high the cross in raisingyour understanding of the meaning of the life, death andresurrection of Christ?
  • Should we be more open in setting aside special days toconcentrate on particular aspects of our faith rather than justfocusing on the major festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost?Which additional special days would you focus on?
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