03 - The Cross and Time, Sept 20, 2020

This sermon can be viewed on our St Herman's YouTube channel and our public Facebook page

Galatians 2.16-20 (Cross)

2 Corinthians 4.6-15 (Sunday)

Mark 8.34-9.1 (Cross)

Matthew 22.35-46 (Sunday)

‘The Kingdom of God is not a word, an idea [ton logon] but power [dunamin]’ (1 Co 4.20), the power of transformation making those who receive it a ‘new creation’ (Gal 6.15), children of God (Jn 1.13). the passing of the old, the coming of the new (2 Cor 5.17).

By the mystery of the Cross, we are altogether renewed and transformed. By His death, Christ God destroys our death; He creates in us a clean heart and puts in us a new and right spirit. Even as our outer man perishes, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Co 4.16) as we unite ourselves to Christ in the likeness of His death; that is, as we participate with Him in the mystery of His Cross. As we put on the new man, which is Christ, He recreates us, He renews us down to the root of our being, in our spirit (Ep 4.23, Col 3.10), He makes all things new (Rev 21.5).

Tomorrow, we take leave of the Feast of the Elevation of the life-giving Cross. The feasts of the Church come and go in the passing of time. But if we enter the feast, then the passing of the old is revealed to be the coming of the new (2 Cor 5.17). As our outer man perishes in the march of time, yet our inner man is being renewed. A profound theology of time is ‘illumined’ here, and that theology of time shines forth from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, on the Cross. The Cross is the mystery of God hidden, as St Paul says in the Greek (Rm 16.25) from this age whose days, months and years are governed by time, chronos [cronoiV aiwnioiV]. That is, this world moves in time that is measured by the cold, impersonal, lifeless movements of the sun, moon and stars.

Let’s peer into this theology of time illumined by the Cross of the Savior; for, it illumines the inner movement of our everyday life in Christ to be an exodus into the root of our being, to the transformation of our inner man. Let’s not leave the Feast without learning how the Cross of the Savior transfigures our life in this world ruled by the ‘time’ measured by the movements of sun, moon and stars—so that we can ‘elevate,’ take up our cross and follow Christ in this life so that we live in this world in the Transfiguration of Christ and not in the cold, lifeless, impersonal movement of that time measured by sun, moon and stars.

Sun, moon and stars, it says, were not created until the fourth day (Gen 1.14); and, when they were created, it was for the purpose of giving light and as signs, it says, for marking the seasons, the days and the years. That means that the world came to be in a movement much deeper than that of sun, moon and stars, and the movement of sun, moon and stars ‘came to be’ for the purpose of signifying that deeper movement. That movement was mystery of God hidden from the wisdom of this age, the mystery of Christ crucified. For Christ crucified, the Lamb who was slain, is the mystery in which the world was founded (Heb 4.3, Jn 19.30 (it is finished!), Rev 13.8). This is why the world shall never be moved (Ps 96.10); it was founded on the mystery of the victory of Christ’s Cross over sin and death.

The mystery of God, too, then, is governed by a movement, a movement much deeper than that of sun, moon and stars. This deeper movement is the love of God (Jn 3.16); the mystery of God descending in love to become one with us in the womb of the blessed Virgin (Gn 3.10, Isa 7.14, Lk 1.35) even to the point of becoming one with us in our curse (Dt 21.23) by His death on the Cross (Phil 2.5-11; Heb 2.14), and of the New Adam ascending in love to the Father (Jn 20.17; Acs 1.10-11), in the mystery of the Living Temple of the New Eve, the mystery of His Incarnation.

This deeper movement of God and His Bride, the Church, is hidden in the chronological time of this world measured by the movement of sun, moon and stars. This deeper movement of the Spirit and His Bride is called ‘kairos’ in the Bible. It is the movement of the ‘Mystery of God’ hidden from the foundation of the world beneath the veil of the movement of sun, moon and stars.

Again, the movement of sun, moon and stars came to be for ‘signs’ and for giving light on the earth. In Scripture, light is knowledge; to know is to be illumined; and so the movement of sun, moon and stars came to be in order to illumine the earth with the knowledge of God. As it says, ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God. Their expanse declares the work of His hands. Day by day utters [bellows, roars]; night to night proclaims knowledge of the unseen [gnosis]. There are no words, their voices [their lights, fwnhn] are not heard; yet, their cry goes out into the whole earth, and their words [rhmata, active words] go out to the ends of the universe’ (Ps 19.1). If, though one has eyes but cannot ‘see’ the knowledge of God declared by sun, moon and stars; if, though one has ears but cannot hear the ‘roar’ of their voices declaring the work of God’s hands (Rm 1.20), it’s because of idolatry that deadens the soul, turns her into a corpse so that her eyes and ears no longer see or hear the mysteries of God whose wonders sun, moon and stars are ‘bellowing’ from end to end of the universe.

And so it was that He who is before time, became flesh, in time, in these last days. The timeless one entered into time and time became one with eternity in the union of God and man. This is the mystery of God that has been hidden in the cosmic dance of sun, moon and stars, until it was revealed in time, in these last days.

And, where in time was it revealed? When and where did sun, moon and stars ‘signify’, declare this mystery of God that the movements of seasons days and years veiled as a sacred garment, a holy Robe of Light? (Ps 102.25-27; 104.2)

‘Thy Nativity, O Christ our God has proclaimed joy to the whole universe; for by a star, those who worshipped the stars were taught to adore Thee!’ (Christmas Troparion) ‘The sun set aside its radiance [as though preparing for baptism] when Thou wast lifted upon the Tree, O long-suffering Sun of Righteousness!’ (Fri Matins, Tone 5, Ode V) The sun, moon and stars know their lord, and when He descends into their ‘house’, the earth, they proclaim Him, they reveal Him, they shine their light on Him so that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear might worship Him together with them.

St Peter writes, ‘The angels longed to stoop down and peer into the Mystery of God’ (1 Pt 1.12), this mystery hidden, veiled, by the dancing movements of sun, moon and stars. St John, when he hears rumor that the LORD is risen, runs with Peter to the tomb, and stoops down and peers into the tomb. He sees and in seeing, he believes (Jn 20.5-9). Understand: in the LORD’s Tomb, he stands in the mystery of God beneath the veil of time even as he stands in time; and that’s when he understands what the Scriptures were saying about the Christ.

The mystery of God, says St Paul, is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory!’ The mystery of God, whose descending and ascending movement to us in His love for the world, is to be found in your inner depths, at that point in you where you begin and end, in the mystery of your secret heart, your spirit. Is this not the movement within us of our own love, and is it not a movement deeper than the movement of time in which our outer man is perishing? This is the deeper movement, the ‘kairos’ of God, that is within you, in your spirit where you have the eyes and the ears to discern the mystery of God that the movement of time is declaring to us—if we take up the Cross of Christ in order to descend into this deeper movement of the love of God that comes into view, that is ‘illumined’ in the liturgical rhythm of the Church’s liturgical and sacramental worship, this deeper movement of the love of God in which our inner man is renewed day by day.

We are leaving the Feast of the Elevation; but if we leave it elevating the Cross, we will be led to Bethlehem and then to the LORD’s Tomb, out into the Garden of His Resurrection, to the Mountain of His Ascension, and then to Pentecost where we are made a new creation in the power of the Kingdom of God, the power that creates in us a clean heart, that puts in us a new and right spirit, the power that raises us from death to life and re-creates us as children of God. May it be so!