"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Friday, October 15, 2004 I was thinking more about the God Bless America cross and realizing that my first response to it was frustration and anger. That seems to be my first response to a lot of things these days, and that's a problem because though it may be very human it's not the best of being human. The best of being human is when we either rise above or push through the frustration and anger to reach out in love.
And, ironically, that's what the cross is about. It's also about Jesus saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." On my lips that needs to be less of a "God, forgive those miserable wretches who are obviously not as enlightened as I" (which is tempting) but instead, God forgive us and stay faithful to us as we all struggle with all this stuff.
The best of the cross and the best of America -- what we can be and at times are -- is that we are all in it together for a greater good.
But the star-spangled cross is still a big problem. It's a huge problem and, frankly, a travesty when our most precious symbol and call to a sacrificial discipleship becomes a symbol of empire and, alternately, costume jewelry. Maybe the first step is spending some time remembering on our hearts what the cross really is. I need to do that as much as anyone.
So, providentially, today I open up the page from the readings book we use for Morning Prayer and there is this. I invite you to join with me in reading and meditating on it. And I'd welcome your comments on any of the above or below:
A Reading from Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne.
The cross is the abyss of wonders, the centre of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theatre of joys, and the place of sorrows. It is the root of happiness, and the gate of heaven.
Of all the things in heaven and earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects. It is an ensign lifted up for all nations; to it shall the Gentiles seek. Its rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it from the four corners of the earth. If love be the weight of the soul, and its object the centre, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this object, cleave unto this centre, and by it enter into rest. There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God's goodness, wisdom, and power, yea his mercy and anger displayed. There we may see humanity's sin and infinite value, our hope and fear, our misery and happiness. There we might see the rock of ages and the joys of heaven. There we may see a man loving all the world, and a God dying for humanity. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies, and all nations adoring a malefactor -- an innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in eternity united, all mysteries at once couched together and explained.
The only reason why this glorious object is so publicly admired by churches and kingdoms, and so little thought of my particular people, is because it is truly the most glorious. It is the root of comforts and the fountain of joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all worlds. It is a well of life beneath in which we may see the face of heaven above, and the only mirror wherein all things appear in their proper colours: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Saviour.
The cross of Christ is the Jacob's ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful patriarchs, expectant saints, prophets ministering, apostles publishing, and doctors teaching, all nations concentering, and angels praising. That cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame that illuminateth all the world. The flame is love: the love in his bosom who died on it, in the light of which we see how to possess all the things in heaven and earth after his similitude.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."