Monday, September 30, 2013

The Cross in Amazing Grace

I was asked to take photographs of a recent celebration of the 75th Jubilee Anniversary of a little parish nestled in our valley.      St. Elizabeth of Hungary in John Day began its journey in 1938 and has persevered in faith these past 75 years.  I did a little study on St.Elizabeth, namesake of the church, who was born in 1207 and died at the young age of 24.  The condensed version is that she was an exceptional woman of God, who gave up luxury to tend to the poor and sick.  She is generally represented as a princess graciously giving alms to the wretched poor or as holding roses in her lap.  In the latter case, she is portrayed either alone or as surprised by her husband, who, according to a legend, met her unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy and the bread she was trying to conceal suddenly turned into roses.  She is a symbol of Christian charity.

We often read about saints of old who experienced extraordinary happenings and the Bible is full of related miracles by the hand of God and dramatically so in both Old and New Testaments.  Miracles occur in our present time; most are silent unlike dramatic and we can almost miss the whisper of God in our daily lives.  I would like to share with you a phenomenon that I can't explain, which appeared in one particular photo taken at the Jubilee Mass.  I refer to the photo to the bottom left, where you see the appearance of  light coming diagonally from the top side of the cross, underneath the hand of Jesus.  I remember that shot distinctly since my camera was having difficulty focusing, which never happens.  I immediately reviewed it on my digital camera and saw the light, which had not been visible to my naked eye.  Of all the altar photos that were taken such as the one on the right, there is no stream of light - only this particular one.  I was not using a camera flash since it is too intrusive in such settings.

Since it is so unusual, there will be mixed perspectives in viewpoint.  Someone claimed it was a reflection, but there was no reflective agent to cast the markings of such a light.  Another felt that it was a Godly inspiration and can only be explained in the light of faith.  And another told me that miracles exist in the eye of the beholder so I leave this up to you, my dear readers, to ponder.

There are various denominations under the umbrella of Christianity and the unifying factor is the Christ, the Cross and Resurrection Life. His Divine Light meets in the altar of our hearts in sweet communion.  I view the Cross as the Throne of Jesus, the Messiah, where the forces of light and dark met and from where Light prevailed and tore the temple veil.  The following is a beautiful expression of thought written by St. Andrew of Crete regarding his message on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ...."Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honourable.  It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation - very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory."   His victory became our salvation through His amazing grace in forgiveness and acceptance as we are or 'just as I am'.

The word Eucharist  is a beautiful Greek word with rich meanings of thanksgiving and communion.  I enjoy the shape of the communion host, which is perfectly round.  It reminds me not only of the holiness but also the wholeness of God available to me and to you every moment of our lives.  His wholeness fills all my holes of imperfection in the marbling of human nature in light and dark.

In my own belief, communion is an outward expression of an inward experience of love with the Divine.   
It was articulated  when the Word or expression of God was made flesh and dwelt among us...
It was finished  when the Word or expression of God, in beaten flesh, dwelt upon a tree to die in order to save....  
It was transforming  when the Word or expression of God, in resurrected flesh, made available His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of mankind.   
It is consummated  within our vessel of flesh as the dwelling place for intimacy in becoming one with the Father of Lights - the Son, who is the Light of the world - the Spirit, who is our guiding Light.

I share a little with you about my personal journey through varied Protestant denominations and Catholicism. I have sat in ministry through priest and pastor, including a woman minister.  I have been in services where worship music brought you to your knees in adoration.  Scripture opened up to me as living Rhema through those who taught and preached the Word of God.  There is another place where I journeyed, one in which I call, "the sheep of My pasture". In this place, there are many who are deep believers in Jesus, their Shepherd.  For varied personal reasons, these are ones who prefer not to attach themselves to church structure but rather attach themselves in living relationship with the Christ.   Since we all bear the name Christian, it is time to look at our Common Denominator who is Lord of all.  It is time to lay aside differences and join in a community of heart for the sake of the Cross.  There is strength in being united to cast a great Light across the land to combat ensuing darkness.  

This past week, we have witnessed such darkness in the slaughter of innocents in Kenya and in Pakistan by an extremist belief gone amuck in distortion, resulting in the frenzy to kill.  There is a quote I recently discovered by Pablo Neruda:  "You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming".  Many flowers have been cut down needlessly in these attacks against God's precious creation, but spring will prevail as it has in the past, in the present and in the future determination of time.

The following link is given if you would like to read in full St. Andrew's discourse on the cross:

As we enter the season of Fall, please meet me again at The Turn-Up Patch in two weeks.... October 14th.  'See'  you then!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring post this week, Colleen. It really provides some food for thought.
    The Cross photo makes me quiet to view it, and think, hmmmm. What is God trying to say here? Surely, it is from here that we get the true Light.