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Forgiveness and the Cross

Posted on September 17, 2017 at 5:00 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The topic of our Gospel reading today is that of God's forgiveness; and the parable of the unmerciful servant demonstrates that his mercy toward us is essentially unlimited. There is no sin that we may commit that God cannot forgive, provided that we are repentant. However, it also shows, in order to attain mercy, we must ourselves be merciful; in order to be forgiven, we must also forgive. And if that seems hard, we must remember, as the parable demonstrates, that even though the offences that others commit against us may seem great, they are as nothing compared to the offences we commit against God. For any wrong done to us, no matter how great we may judge it to be, is simply an offence against a mortal creature; but all offences against God, no matter how trivial they may seem, if done against the Almighty creator of the universe.

 

It for that reason that Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins. And it is because of that infinitely great sacrifice – God becoming man so that he might suffer and die for our sins – that we must keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. That Cross means the possibility of Salvation for all; and Salvation means that it is possible for us to one day be where we were created to be – with God, in heaven, for all eternity.

 

Therefore, wonderful things can happen for us if only we will keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. Indeed, let me tell you a little story concerning something rather wonderful that happened recently, in this very Church, when one person understood the importance of keeping the Cross at the centre of things.

 

One Sunday, not many weeks ago, I came into St Mary's to conduct Divine Services as usual. As I faced the altar, I was first startled and then entranced by an unusual sight. Upon the White Cloth on the surface of the Holy Table there shone an image of the Cross in golden light. It took me only a moment to realise that it was caused by light reflecting off the Cross in the Sanctuary onto the Altar Cloth. But why was it happening? It had never happened before that I had seen. Now, it was a sunny morning; and of course as we all know, the angle of the sun changes throughout the year and what with sometimes days being wet or cloudy, perhaps it was that conditions had never been just right for me to notice this happening before? But as the service progressed, I glanced back to the altar several times; and though the angle of the sun changed, the phenomenon continued and the bright, golden cross continued to shine unmoving upon the white linen of the Holy Table. This made it clear that it was the light of the sanctuary lights themselves being reflected from the cross down onto the altar; which made it all the more puzzling, as in that case why had it never happened before?

 

The only thing I could think of at that point was that someone must have moved the cross or adjusted its position so that for the very first time it was catching the light in this way and reflecting its image upon the altar. And so it proved to be. After the service, as I was telling the few people who had remained behind about what I had noticed and inviting them to come and see it for themselves, Sylvia Ward told me that when she had been cleaning and doing the flowers she had noticed that the flowers were obscuring the cross to some extent; and thinking that it was wrong that the cross should be hidden in any way, she had moved it a little so that it would remain in plain view and retain its position of prominence within the church. She had kept the Cross at the centre of things. And something wonderful had been the result.

 

Now, of course, this is only a small thing – although I must confess that it caused me great excitement and wonder at the time, and still warms my heart whenever I see it – but it does, I think, serve as a sort of a parable. We as Christians are called to keep the Cross at the centre of our lives. When it was done in this case, something rather beautiful was the result – a glowing cross was cast upon the Altar in God's Church. And that I think can serve to remind us of the even more beautiful and wonderful things that can result when we keep the cross at the centre of our lives always … if we lead our lives always thinking of how Christ died for us … if we lovingly follow his teachings, carrying our own crosses, forgiving others as we ourselves wish God to forgive us when we fail to live up to our calling to be as Christ-like as possible … realising that even as we carry our cross, the cross of Christ carries us … carries us daily ever nearer to our heavenly home and eternal life … to the place where all mourning ceases, all sadness is over, where all is joy and love, and all our sins forgiven … a forgiveness that we have through the Cross of our Lord … the Cross that I pray that all here will embrace, now and always, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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