From the Rector

Dear friends,

The weekly e-news continues to be our main way of keeping in touch and sharing news among the congregation but it is good that we are now able to meet each Sunday for the Eucharist. It is also good that work has started on our new heating system and we hope that it will be finished before the end of this month so we will have a warm church for this autumn.

This is a month of patronal feasts for Holy Cross. Our Indian friends in the Syrian Orthodox congregation which meets in our church tell me that they are not yet ready to meet for the Liturgy and so we will not have their splendid patronal feast of Mary this year. I am sorry to miss it. We will, however, celebrate our own patronal feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Sunday 13th September with a Eucharist on the day and a Vigil at 7.30 p.m. the night before.

‘The Cross’ is shorthand for the death and resurrection of Christ and it is the heart of Christianity and the ground of our hope. The proper day for our feast is 14th September and it is a more joyful commemoration of the Lord’s Cross than that on Good Friday – our feast is sometimes called the ‘Triumph of the Cross’. It was first celebrated in the fourth century as the dedication of the church built by the Emperor Constantine over the site of the crucifixion in Jerusalem – you may have visited it if you have been to Jerusalem, it is called the Holy Sepulchre. The date was chosen because it was the day the Emperor’s mother, St Helena, found the original cross of Jesus which had been hidden by the Christians of Jerusalem before the Romans destroyed the city.

Our feast is called the ‘Exaltation’ (lifting up) of the Cross in reference to John 3:14, ‘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’, and John 12:32 where Jesus says, ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’; because of this in the Greek liturgy a cross is lifted up and shown to the congregation.

For me the Cross sums up what Christianity is all about. I am very pleased to be the Rector of a church and congregation dedicated to the Cross. One of the rare times that someone has angrily stormed out of one of my sermons was when I was preaching on the Cross – the person said the Cross was nasty and in the past and shouldn’t be mentioned, as Christianity is now only about joy and peace. I was content to remind them that the authors of the New Testament have a different opinion, but although the Cross is an instrument of torture and retains its horror, it does bring joy and peace. In our world, joy and peace without the Cross is an illusion.

Christ on the Cross gives hope to those who are suffering because they know that God suffers with them and that the ultimate triumph of love over death and evil is guaranteed. I look forward to sharing with you for the first time our Patronal Feast, to exploring with you the meaning of God’s love shown in the Cross of Christ, and to working together to share this joyful news with others.

This message is at the heart of our community but it is not all we are and do. We have been sharing in a good crop from our church garden, thanks to Anne and all who work there. The vegetables are given away as a sign of God’s love which is freely given to us.

Our partner organisations are gradually returning to our hall, with the Reindeer Playgroup and the After School Club being the first back. This is a commercial arrangement which gives us an important source of income, but I trust it is also a partnership and a way Holy Cross can live up to its place at the heart of our community.

Unfortunately we are not yet able to meet socially as a Church, apart from socially distanced chats outside after the service. This means that we can’t have the annual Bridge Afternoon. Another event which is cancelled this year is the Davidson’s Mains Christmas Lights switch on, although the lights will still be put up (and switched on). Nearer the time, when we know more about the public health situation, we will have a conversation with the Christmas Lights Committee about how we can mark the day in an appropriate way.

With love in Christ,

Stephen

Photograph, the Oratory at the Rectory.

Read Stephen’s ‘thoughts on liturgy, history and religion’ in his blog

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