Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cries from The Cross of Christ - The Sixth Cry


Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and the some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)


"Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
Sixth Cry

Most of us, who have lived any length of time have experienced the death of someone as a "relief." I found myself standing by my brother's death bed - the code called - the medical people rushed in - tried to rush me out - but I would not go - My brother was not going to die in a room of strangers! The surgeon held the shock paddles in his hands ready to shock my brother's heart back to life and frozen in position he began to weep. You see I had been praying for hours that they would not shock him, again. I took the paddles out of the doctors hands and laid them on the crash cart. The doctor looked at me confused and through his tears said, "It is over, I just can't hurt him anymore." That doctor in the state of Georgia was breaking the law and throwing himself open to a lawsuit and doing it in front of a witness, the victim's brother. It was an act of faith, a self sacrificing act of love on the part of a wonderful Coptic Christian Brother. I put my hand on his shoulder and he hugged me. I assured him he had done the right thing.

My heart had been breaking for weeks as I watched my brother suffer, and although that grief was not less, in the moments following the death I felt a joy like I had never felt before, a bitter-sweetness I cannot describe, I think purchased by that six weeks of suffering. The surgeon, a stranger who had worked very hard to save my brother from the handy work of a drugging and drunken "colleague" stood weeping, repeating over and over, "This should never have happened" and I stood beside him, tears streaming down my face, grieving deeply at the suffering and loss, but at the same time smiling and feeling a huge and unexplainable peace.

"It is finished." What precious sound those words held. For the Marys and John these had to have been bitter-sweet words of relief.

I sat for three hours in silence, alone in the room with my brother's body - the undertaker was delayed. I had been with him every moment I could for six weeks. It wasn't good enough just to walk away. I had to look into the eyes of the person who would take charge of that body - it had belonged to someone who meant a great deal to me. The absolute peace in the silence of that room had to have been the reality of the Crucifixion scene and what John the Beloved and the Marys were feeling. I will grant you - although it is not recorded in history - they did not leave the Cross until they left with Jesus' lifeless body. I can imagine the soldiers looking on being grieved saying at least to themselves, "this should not have happened."

I think that I understand and have even experienced the human - survivor side of these words. But what the Marys and John experienced in these words is only a tiny fraction of what they mean. The "It" in "It is finished" has to be the largest "IT" ever spoken. What was "IT"? "IT" was the Father's business that troubled Mary and Joseph when Jesus was Twelve. "IT" was history of Cosmic proportions, events that could not be preformed, foreseen or understood by angels, so daring, dangerous and risky that archangels were not trusted with ITs task. A task that required the Son of the Eternal Himself, IT required the Eternal Expression of God-into-being; the Word who was in the Beginning "with" God - the being who outrayed and "everything that had being - had being through Him and without Him there was not being." When Jesus talked (as recorded in the 5th Chapter of John) saying that the Validity of his Ministry was shown in the power the Father gave him to "accomplish" IT: The Greek word there translated "accomplish" is the same word here translated "finished" "IT is Accomplished." What was accomplished but the fulfillment of The Mystery of Mysteries. I hear Joe Pesci in the Movie J.F.K. saying, "It's a riddle, inside a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, man." That is certainly true of the "IT" that was accomplished on the Cross. Every single theological "explanation" as to the meaning - the "IT" of the Cross, breaks down in laughable anomalies when carried to their ultimate rational conclusions. A mystic knows that when the sacred theologian (different from the rational/secular theologian) begins to defend the absurd that there is great mystical truth, something real outside the human language's ability to conceptualize and verbalize.  So rational minds argue the irrational concerning the "Work of the Cross" and in every instance the "conceptualizations" fail. What happened that moment in that IT happened in Eternity, in Heaven and in the Earth, in Jesus, in the Godhead, in US. 

It was taught by the Church for a thousand years that the work of the Cross was a sort of trickery. The mythology being that Satan had taken Humanity away from God by "Trickery and deception" in the Garden of Eden, when he Tricked the innocent women to eat the apple, and that Jesus was a sort of innocent "bait" that if Satan could be tricked into killing an innocent sinless Human, God would regain "possession" of his Creation. And it is true as confirmed by the Apostle Paul who said, "1Co 2:6  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 
1Co 2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 
1Co 2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 
1Co 2:9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 
1Co 2:10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
1Co 2:11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 
1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 

This image was pictured in early church history many times in the symbol of the Father dangling the "hook" of Christ for the Great fish of Satan to bite. Around eleven-hundred A.D., some thought this ICON to be deficient claiming that it showed God in a less than Omnipotent light, and reduced him to play games of trickery, at great cost to himself, the humiliation and suffering of his own Son. The next concept to be floated was that God was angry with humankind and to appease God's anger, Jesus sacrificed himself for humanities sake so that no longer would the Father see the rebellious Humans when he looked our way but would only see the love of the suffering Son. 

There are New Testament texts that would appear to support both these ideas. But in the end we are left with the certainty that the Great Mystery of the Cross - the "IT" that was accomplished is beyond our grasp. We say only of this great IT, "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead,  Whose Kingdom shall have no end." 

It is truly a mystery, but may be stated most clearly as the planting of THE SEED of The New Creation, in that it created the new man Adam in who's flesh and blood we who partake aright will be restored. Layer upon layer IT means these things outlined above, these levels of understanding and much, much more that we cannot grasp on our present plane of existence. What ever IT was, IT was/is the perfect expression of LOVE, to which all other expressions of love are mere shadows, mere symbols of IT. IT was/is a Cosmic Billboard Advertising the Father's love for his Children. IT was/is a "Lamb" slain for all Time so the blood sacrifice of the Ancients would be seen for the powerlessness it was. IT was/is a sacrifice that placed human thinking on a higher plane. IT was/is a symbol that stands and has stood the test of time, upon which people's lives, STILL today are changed by ITs view. There is a great mystical secret in the language "was/is". IT is the truth of things Eternal, "before Abraham was, I AM." "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to "finish" (same Greek word) His work" IT was/is the testimony of the symbolism, the ICONS of the Sacred text, the reality that in nearly all disciplines and many cultures on earth they were looking for the "IT" to come, as witnessed by the Astrologers who showed up at Jesus' birth having "read the Stars." In a thousand cultures, as a jigsaw puzzle, in the stories of Priests, Prophet, Shamans, Astrologer and Holy Men and Women of all cultures, the feeling was present and expressed in myriad way; the trace of the story found in our most ancient literature, the picture of Gilgamesh traversing the "Sea of Death" to rescue a Human from Death, the image of him obtaining an object of "eternal life" that slipped from his grasp in a storm. In the Garden of Eden, The I AM said to Eve, "thy seed should bruise the serpent's head," on down through all the history of Israel, as well as the psalms and the major and minor prophets, down to John the Baptist, the Reincarnation of Elijah, saying "After me cometh One mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose." All THAT was now accomplished. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all humankind unto Me." IT is told in the Parable of the Feast, "IT is finished; the feast is ready, come ye to IT." IT was/is the food of our existence, the love, the grace, the knowledge to not be animal only, but to be spiritual also and "progress" in understanding, and growth, until we grow into "The fullness of the Statue of . . . . " He that was . . . . is. And when we view the Cross with sympathy, and feel the kinship of IT . . . and identify with IT . . . and take IT upon ourselves . . . . then He is Also IN US. "Take up thy Cross and follow me " . . . And in the flow of love that is "living by the Cross" . . . we will reach our time when we can say of the "Work of the Cross in us" . . as Paul the Apostle was able to say, "I have fought a good fight; I have FINISHED (same Greek word) my course; I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me, at that day." WAS/IS - I am persuaded. . . because of the Cross . . that he is able . . because of the Cross . . the keep that which I committed unto HIM . . . because of the Cross . . against THAT DAY.

My precious childhood Pastor, a Scott by birth, Dr. James A. Keillor said when I asked him what "taking up the Cross meant" (it sounded so frightening to me . . I was seven) he got a smile in his eyes, tickled at such a question from a seven-year-old, looked down from his 6'4" frame and said, "Well, Laddy, you have to learn the three L's. LIVE for Christ, LOVE for Christ and LABOR for Christ. That is the strength of the Cross, no hiding from life -but living to the full, no hiding from people, but loving to the full, and no hiding from work, but taking on all the tasks that Living and Loving demands.

I know no other reference where the Power of the Cross of Christ, the IT accomplished is more succinctly stated than in the words of Saint Patrick's Breastplate. The POWER of the Cross allows us to bind ourselves to it and that binding is power not just unto eternal life, but revolutionary change here and now for those willing to walk The Way bound to IT, and for everyone who comes into contact with them.  When one is bound to the Cross, every word has the power of The Word, hearts are broken open, wounds are healed, true healing/salvation is experienced, the supposed intractable problems find solution, the conscience that has turn to ashes is restored, the relationships damaged by sin healed, the physical handicaps filled with LIFE and purpose, our worst losses and struggles turned to our benefit.  What seems surrender to death, is Liberating, creative and eternally REAL.

 

Saint Patrick's Morning Prayer

We bind unto ourselves today the strong Name of the Trinity, by the invocation of the same, In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Three in One, the One in Three.
We bind unto ourselves this day forever, by power of faith, Christ's incarnation; His baptism in the Jordan River; His death on cross for our salvation; His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way; His coming on the day of doom; We Bind unto ourselves today.
We bind unto ourselves the power of the great love of the Cherubim; the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour; the service of the Seraphim, Confessors' faith, Apostles' words, the Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls; all good deed done unto the Lord, and purity of simple souls.
We bind unto ourselves today the virtues of the starlit heaven, the glorious sun's life-giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even, the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks, the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks.
We bind unto ourselves today the power of God to hold and lead, his eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to hearken to our need. The wisdom of our God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward; the Word of God to give us speech, his heavenly host to be our guard. Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force, the natural lusts that war within, the hostile ones that mar our course; or few or many, far or nigh, in every place, and in all hours, against their fierce hostility, We bind to ourselves these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles, against false words of heresy, against the knowledge that defiles, against the heart's idolatry, against the wizard's evil craft, against the death wound and the burning, the choking wave and poisoned shaft, protect us Christ till your returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all the love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
We bind unto ourselves the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity; by invocation of the same: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, The Three in One, and One in Three, of whom all nature has creation: Eternal Father, Spirit, Word, praise to the Lord of our salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen



Our Heavenly Father please let the wisdom and strength of this, Saint Patrick's prayer be the heart of all who wish to heal themselves, to heal their families, their relationships, their communities, their towns, their country. - Amen.

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