A reflection by Chris for Holy Cross Day

I watched part of a football game the other day. Not the whole thing, it wasn’t the Pats or the Cowboys after all, but part of it…because I needed to remember.

I’ve been settling into life in Vancouver these past few months. I have a bit of a rhythm now…I work out, head to the cathedral, go home and I work for a few more hours. I go to sleep and get woken up by people yelling out on the street between 1- 4am because they are on substances or mentally ill or both. I walk by people on the street, some passed out face down, others curled under blankets, others talking or arguing with unseen figures. I see people contorted into odd shapes, hands grasping cups in supplication, I have walked by people on Richards shooting up on the sidewalk in a pile of filth that spills out across the sidewalk.  I walk by drug deals, I walk by people selling themselves for money or drugs, I have walked through the DTES and seen such misery that you can’t do anything but weep. I have seen so much misery, poverty, racism and addiction in the midst of one of the wealthiest, most progressive areas in the country.

I have also heard words of hate spoken as if they were somehow the words of God. So-called Street preachers spewing words of hate and violence against people because these so-called preachers hate the way God made them these other children of God. They speak as if they know God but the language they speak is of a god of hate.  A god I don’t know.

I have seen first hand discrimination against people of color, derogatory comments made about first nations people, Chinese people and African Canadians. I have wept knowing that it’s not much different here than in many other parts of North America, systemic racism exists, we just hide it better than most places. I have had death threat made against me personally because of the LGBTQ2+ flag in front of the church and told that I can’t possibly be sympathetic to the struggles other people endure because I am a straight white male.  I have intelligent, hardworking friends who have been told that they get things because of their looks, and I  have had other friends who have been denied opportunities because of the way they look. I know people who have had difficult diagnoses, broken relationships, who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and who are being evacuated from home due to the wildfires.

Sometimes in the midst of this all I need a reminder. When I see the misery, when I hear the hate, when I feel the hopelessness I need a reminder that God so loved the world. 

I need Holy Cross day. I need to remember that when it looked like all was lost, that when it seems that evil and darkness and the powers of the World had destroyed Jesus and all was lost that actually God was victorious and raised Jesus from the dead.  I need to remember that the cross planted on that hill on Good Friday in the spring is celebrated in the Fall as the harvest of the victory of love over all.

I need to remember that when the powers and principalities and authorities saw a beaten broken man humiliated on an instrument of torture that God was in fact through Jesus opening his arms wide to embrace the whole world because God so loved the world. Go so loved the world that God entered Creation in an act of love at Christmas by emptying God’s self of all power in order to be with us, guide us and show us the way.

I need to remember that God so loved the world, that he gave, even to the point of risking his own son.

When I hear people line those spewing hate against people because of whom they love I need to remember that God so loved the world because that reminds me that

“Love came down at Christmas.” Love entered into creation for us, to give, regardless of the cost. To give, not to get, but gave so that the other can receive. That’s what love is. God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…

I needed to be reminded of the words of Archbishop Michael Curry who preached at the Windsor-Middleton Wedding that “if it’s not about love, then it’s not about God.”

I believe. My friends, I believe. I believe that in spite of what we may see happening in the world around us that God through Jesus is victorious. In spite of all that is happening that God has not given up on us or this world. I believe that what was planted on the side of a hill in the Spring on Good Friday is bearing the victorious fruit that we celebrate today on the feast of Holy Cross Day. 

We need to be reminded of the nature of our God as revealed in Jesus the Christ is summed up totally in John 3:16. For God so loved the world… 

When Constantine’s project to build a Church on the site of Gol’gotha early in the 4th century unearthed a beam in the course of digging that authorities soon decided was a remnant of the very same cross on which the Lord had been crucified and Portions of this beam were enshrined near the altar of the new church when it was dedicated in honour of the Resurrection on September fourteenth in the year 335; we have been given in this feast of the Eastern and Western church a remembrance of what love looks like. A reminder that as Michael Curry has said “the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.”

When we feel the world closing in. When we feel the weight of oppression and fear ad hopelessness. When we feel that all that we oppose, the powers of evil and corruption and greed and hatred are winning and the world as it is will prevail, we need a reminder, a reminder of hope. 

I watched the little bit of the football game this past Thursday night. Though not my favourite teams I was looking for a reminder, for hope. I was looking for my John 3:!6 sign. And before the beginning of the game, I heard a hymn that embodies the hope of John 3:!6. The hope that God is truly victorious and that we will see God’s justice, God’s mercy and love rule this world.

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,

‘Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list’ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on ’til victory is won.

So despite what we may be experiencing or seeing around us God so loved the world and God never, ever, ever relents.