Solihull News - - FAITH MATTERS -

week the Chris­tian Church cel­e­brates Holy Cross Day.

This day re­minds us that the cross stands at the cen­tre of the Chris­tian faith.

The story of Je­sus tells us that he met his death by be­ing fas­tened to a wooden cross, which was a bru­tal form of pun­ish­ment im­posed by the Ro­man au­thor­i­ties at that time.

Since that event, the cross has be­come the sign by which the Chris­tian faith is iden­ti­fied, re­plac­ing the fish sym­bol of the early times, and we now find crosses in churches and at many other places which are holy to Chris­tian peo­ple.

The cross also stands at the heart of the ser­vices of the Church of Eng­land.

For ex­am­ple, at a Chris­ten­ing ser­vice, the priest makes the sign of the cross in Holy Oil on the fore­head of each can­di­date.

In that way the cross be­comes the ‘ badge’ of the Chris­tian faith, which each per­son wears for the whole of their life.

Even though the oil soon fades away, the mark that is made lasts for­ever, al­ways re­mind­ing us of the chal­lenge of fol­low­ing Je­sus who was obe­di­ent to death, even in such a painful and hu­mil­i­at­ing way.

The cross is at the cen­tre of Chris­tian wor­ship.

At the be­gin­ning of the Com­mu­nion ser­vice the sign of the cross is made as the priest says, ‘ In the name of the Fa­ther, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

The priest also makes the sign of the cross as the prayer of for­give­ness is prayed, and also over the bread and wine as they are blessed.

At the end of the ser­vice, the sign of the cross ac­com­pa­nies the words of the Bless­ing.

The cross is, per­haps, both the most sim­ple and most pro­found of sym­bols.

Its shape is the meeting of just two lines.

These cross at right an­gles to each other – in that sense, it could hardly be sim­pler. But in the story of the Chris­tian faith, it sym­bol­ises the meeting of the pain of the world and the love, mercy and heal­ing of God.

When we think about the parts of our world which are in need of heal­ing and restora­tion to­day, the mes­sage of the cross be­comes a huge source of hope and trans­for­ma­tion.

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