Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself; Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Collect for Holy Cross Day (Contemporary), BCP, pg.244
It's interesting to me that Holy Cross Day comes the day after we have a gospel reading from Mark where the disciples are quizzed by Jesus on "Who do people say that I am?" This leads up to that moment when Peter... who had earlier received a gold star for saying, "You're the Messiah" then does his Peter-thing of no longer seeing Jesus, God incarnate, but Jesus, that awesome guy who's going to make things better for us Jews in this Roman Empire. The news that Jesus will have to die is "not acceptable" to Peter, and he rebukes Jesus... bringing us to the famous words, "Get behind me, Satan!" (Satan, in my understanding, is "tempter"... not "horned red demon") Jesus then goes on to say,
"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it." --Mark 8:34-35
This is hefty stuff. Think about what that means? Again, one could see it as a literal "dying" for the sake of the gospel, the sake of Christ (and the disciples will eventually get this). But, I think for us today especially in places where Christianity is practiced freely, this is a call to give up our own self-interests that keep us separate from God. As we say in the General Thanksgiving:
...give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days.
I am left pondering, "What does it take for me to take up my cross and follow God?"
This is what I'm reflecting on for this Holy Cross Day. I'll be bringing this same kind of reflection to my EfM class this evening.