“As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake, / Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God; / Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power, / Granting them victories over their adversaries, / By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.” (Byzantine Kontakion-hymn of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross)
As those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross today, I am reminded that He didn’t “have to” die on the cross. His Father did not have unresolved “issues” of anger or resentment, with which He needed help. No. He was fine.
We were the ones with the “issues.” We had broken our relationship with Him, having lost our focus, our vision, or “missed the mark” of harmony with Him, in taking the path of “sin” (“amartia” in Greek, meaning “missing the mark”). This path had us going around in a pointless circle, and we couldn’t stop doing that, without God’s help.
So Christ stepped into our dark “circle,” shining new light on a new way forward; the way of His cross. He is “voluntarily” raised out of our circle and onto a cross, – because He wants to be. He takes upon Himself, in the human nature He chose to share with us when He became man, the darkest consequences of our “sin.” Going down into our death, and even lower, into our hell, He brings us out of there, into a new freedom and a new happiness. Because “it was impossible for death to hold Him” (Acts 2: 24), the Source of Life. Let me let Him break me out of pointless circles today, as I take up, once again, His “weapon of peace” and follow Him.