Here’s an excerpt from the October edition of The Shepherd’s Voice newsletter. We will be posting parts of the newsletter throughout the month. Don’t get the newsletter in print and want one? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request one!
From the Pastor’s desk…
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name!—LBW 377
Many Christian churches begin each Sunday worship service by carrying in a processional cross during the opening hymn. This is a beautiful tradition that has been part of Lutheran worship and one that we hope to reinstate here at Shepherd of the Hills. Since this is a practice we have not always opted to observe, it is good to think about why we choose to do something like this. A few of the verses from LBW 377 Lift High The Cross can help us think it through.
+Come, Christians, follow where our captain trod, our king victorious, Christ the Son of God. As the cross enters the worship space, we are reminded of the one we are here to worship and of not only the sacrifice made for us but his defeat of death and victory over evil. We are lead into to worship by the image of Jesus’ victory.
+Led on their way by this triumphant sign, the hosts of God in conquering ranks combined. We also follow the cross out into the world. Not only is the light taken from the altar, symbolic of the light of Christ in the world, we also see the cross, an image of God’s presence in all suffering and defeat of evil, leading us and going along with us into the world.
+All newborn soldiers of the crucified bear on their brows the seal of him who died. We call the one who carries the processional cross the crucifer which means ‘one who carries the cross’. However, all the baptized are cross bearers because we are marked with the cross of Christ at our baptism. The processional cross reminds us of this cross, the sign of God’s love and grace, which we all bear every moment.
+O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, as thou has promised, draw us all to thee. John 12:32 (Jesus said) “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Jesus has promised that his crucifixion and resurrection will draw all people to him. As the crucifer passes with the processional cross, many people choose to turn in their places in the pews to visually follow its path in or out of the worship space. This reminds us how we are drawn to the cross of Christ and that it is Jesus who has drawn us to worship, draws us back out into the world and draws us, and the whole world, continually to himself.