“I gave My back to the scourgings, and turned not away My face from the spittings; I stood before the judgement-seat of Pilate and endured the Cross, for the salvation of the world.”
– Praise Hymn of Holy Friday Matins
My Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
No doubt, by the time this message is sent out to our lovely community, our precious and long-suffering Lord will have been placed upon His Cross. He was dragged through the darkened streets of Jerusalem, placed on trial in the courts of the unjust, beaten, slashed, mocked and spat upon. He was nailed to the wood of the Cross, hoisted high above the earth, for all to gaze upon with horror and disgust, and left suffocating in the heat of the sun, to die the most painful of deaths devised by the cunning spirit of fallen mankind.
He did this for you. He did this for me. He did this for His Father in Heaven. He did this for His All Holy Mother on earth. He did this for the children. He did this for the seniors. He did this for the just and righteous. He did this for the wicked and the evil. He did this so that we may believe. He did this so that we may have hope. He did this for the times we feel isolated and alone. He did this so that we may feel the company of the saints. He did this out of sadness for our falling away from grace. He did this for the joy of salvation. He did this because He loves. He did this because He is love. He did this because we hate. He did this because we sometimes are hate.
He ascended the wood of the Cross because He is obedient to the wishes of the Father. He had to do it, because our willful disobedience forced the hand of God. And instead of a justifiably wrathful response, He turned His cheek, accepted the strikes and the blows from impious men, withstood bloodletting violence, and yielded up His righteous, unblemished and life-giving spirit.
He died on the Cross so that we could enjoy our church. He perished on the barren rock of Golgotha in order to lead His saints with an enduring example of faithfulness and fidelity.
Our church will soon have a name; an identity, a connection, a legacy and a witness. Our soon-to-be-announced Patron Saint chose us. We did not choose him or her. Our Patron Saint has watched over us, guiding our steps, purifying our intentions, sharpening our purpose, fortifying our fellowship, and solidifying our faith – all in an effort to lead us to Christ. The Christ on the Cross. The Christ covered in His own pure blood. The Christ who bore our evils and set us free from the throws of death. The Christ who broke the chains, shattered the locks, and crashed down the bars. Our Patron Saint shares in this victory and urges us to accept and electrify our zeal for the Lord, just as he or she has done.
Though we are more than halfway through Great and Holy Week, the greatest and the holiest is yet to come. I thank you and bless you for your participation thus far. You have turned out to worship and to offer your praises with prayerful enthusiasm and pious love. As the divine services continue to intensify, I pray that our willingness to participate continues its exponential growth. I pray God’s strength to be within you, and I pray His love to shower down upon you.
With Love in the Christ Who Endured All Things,