Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Cross: Old and Rugged/Precious and Lifegiving

This is the view from the Holy Transfiguration Hermitage in Gibsons, B.C. Our friend Brent Applegate from Calgary helped the monks plant this cross in the rock face.

Today the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of "The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross." Every year we remember the re-discovery of the Cross in Jerusalem in the year 326 A.D. (There is quite an amazing story that goes along with its rediscovery).

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, the great liturgical poet St. Andrew of Crete once said: "The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast".

I love that idea: that seeing the Cross of Christ somehow makes everything true gather together. It reminds me of the Flannery O'Connor story "Everything That Rises Must Convergence." But somehow in the Cross, it is the true things that find coherence.

More later...


Anonymous Ephrem Christopher Walborn said...

I'm hijacking the comments here to introduce myself. A friend of mind pointed your blog out and I saw in your profile good movies, good books, good music -- and why do I feel like "Good God, let's eat" is coming next?

A brief rundown:

Movies: anything by Tarkovsky, but esp. Rublev & Nastalghia, Kurosawa, Bergman. Also like the Cohen Bros, Woody Allen, and others.

Music: see my profile. Arvo Pärt isn't listed, but he's my favorite modern composer. Fratres and Tabula Rassa probably being my favorite pieces.

Lit: Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Eco, Borges, Mandelshtam, Yeats, Szymborska, Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe... the list could go on for a while... but I can't leave out Chesterton, Lewis (esp Till We Have Faces), and Tolkien.

Anyway... feel free to contact me -- Or check out my infrequent blogging:

6:25 PM  
Blogger James said...

Brent is such a helpful guy! I'm glad we have him down the street.

(Is more coming?)

8:36 AM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Perhaps I'll just put it in here. I was just thinking about the hymnology surrounding the Cross. People are moved by the power of the Cross, for all its strangeness. For instance, my late step-Grandpa, Russell Kleinsteuber, liked to sit in his recliner and sing "The Old Rugged Cross". This popular Gospel song was penned in 1913 by the American Methodist evangelist Rev. George Bennard. The song's primary message, from what I can tell, is to reorient its hearers to the visceral reality of the crucifixion of Christ, and then to point to the drama of divine-human redemption undergirding that.

While not 'in your face,' its theology seems to be pretty run of the mill Western 'substitutionary atonement' Anselmic stuff.

Orthodox hymnology of the Cross seems to have a slightly different emphasis... more on the paradoxical victory of the Cross. It becomes "precious and life-giving." Not something to someday trade up or "exchange for a crown," but rather in some way the crown itself, or the throne or something.

This is what Galatians 3 is about. How the Cross, an accursed thing, somehow becomes the instrument whereby God annuls the ancestral curse.

"N.T. Wright"has a great article about this.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Sorry, none of those links in the last post work.

3:28 PM  

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