Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross so that he might draw the whole world to himself. Grant that we who glory in his death for our salvation may also glory in his call to take up our cross and follow him; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
This is my first blog post, indeed my first blog ever, and the time of the Church could not be any better for it. Today the church commemorates, celebrates, and glories in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By the cross we have won salvation and through the cross we as Christians find the truth of our own life. The title of this blog "Possessing the Sacred Cross" comes from Martin Luther's seven marks of the church in On the Councils and the Church of 1539. Each of the marks are signposts of where the true Christian church is to be found on earth. Luther writes about this seventh mark, "the holy Christian people are externally recognized by the holy possession of the sacred cross. They must endure every misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil from the devil, the world, and the flesh (as the Lord's Prayer indicates)...," and a little later, "And the only reason they must suffer is that they steadfastly adhere to Christ and God's word, enduring this for the sake of Christ." (LW AE Vol. 41, 165)
The reason I have created this blog is because of the pain I've felt in the wake of the recent decisions made at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Namely, the move away from the traditional teaching of the Church regarding sexual behavior. I now struggle with what indeed is the faithful response of a traditional/orthodox pastor in light of the theological and I believe gospel divisions within my own church body. How best does a pastor who believes the decisions and social statement regarding this issue are in grave err continue to serve the Church and the church body? Perhaps the answer is found in the cross.
I don't intend for this blog to be only about this issue, but rather to explore the depths of what it means for us as Christians and as pastors who stand against this new teaching to "holy possess" the sacred cross of our Lord. The cross is what Lutherans are about and if our life and our teaching is to be an authentic witness to the Gospel, then it must witness to the cross, not only pointed to, but lived for His sake. Our Lord calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him.
I pray this Holy Cross Day all pastors and all the faithful who struggle with the ELCA decisions and how best to respond faithfully continue to meditate upon the Holy Cross of our Lord and there seek solace, peace, and ultimately our only hope.
On the Commemoration of the Holy Cross
Pr. Ian Wolfe