Family Service, Holy Cross, 14th September 2014

As you’ve heard this morning, today is the day we set aside to give thanks for and to celebrate the cross.

Usually we put days aside to remember important people. Very few objects get their own day in the Christian calendar.

So, why is the cross so important? (Take answers from the kids)

Yes, Jesus died on the cross and it is how we know that God loves us, because he gave us the most important and special thing he could. Our gospel reading reminds us that God gave us his one and only Son to save us, so that we can be joined with him, because he loves us.

And St Paul says, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Because he is Love, God does what Love does: He unites himself with the beloved. He enters his own creation, not sending a substitute but going himself to the bitter end, sharing in the worst of suffering and grief that life can throw at us, and finally sharing our death, so that he can bring us through death to life in him.

The cross is important because through it we learn that god always wants to be with us, and understands when we are scared or hurting or fearful. Jesus on the cross reveals that God is with us even in some pretty scary times and places.

The cross is so important because it has become one of the most recognisable symbols in the world, even for those who know little about Christianity know the cross is the sign of those who follow Christ. We’ve had the cross as a symbol since very early on.

The cross helps us to remember.

Because people often forget. We forget if we’re not reminded of things
Which is why we fill our lives with pictures and objects that remind us of certain people or places or times.

We need the cross to help us remember all the things that Jesus has taught us, and all the things the God has promised.

The Cross is a symbol
Of Gods love that he gave us everything
Of Gods understanding of the things we go through
Of Gods eternal presences

The cross is so important that not only do we use it to decorate places, or wear it as jewellery, but we also can use it as a prayer. And it’s one of the oldest but simplest prayers we have.

If you’ve paid close attention to our services, or any other service you’ve been to, you will have seen people making the sign of the cross on themselves. And this is a type of prayer.

We often say the words with it, ‘in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’ or can. be used without any words, and we use it in many different ways.

To invoke or call upon God worship and in other situations.
To strengthen ourselves
To remind ourselves that Jesus is a part of us, and that we are part of a much wider body in the church throughout the world.
It helps us make holy some parts of the day and helps us to focus on God

The cross is important, because of the actions of Jesus, because of the symbol it has become for our faith and all the things the cross reminds us of. And because of the things it tells others of. And it’s right that we have a day set aside to celebrate it and to remind us of its importance.

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Townsend Church of England School – Dedication Service

Readings: Job 28: 12-19 & 1 Corinthians 3: 16-23

Well, for those of you who might be new to the cathedral, welcome and for those who have been here before, welcome back.

I don’t know about you lot but I’m having quite a good week. I hope you are as well. I’m getting excited about this Saturday because that’s when I officially, properly start working here in the cathedral, and officially, properly start working in other places, like with you in Townsend.
The beginning of the new academic year is a big event in the diary, and a place where there is so much potential.
Actually, It’s a new start for all of us. And big starts, and big changes bring with them all sorts of different things. Excitement, and happiness, challenges and test, and also possibly fear, and nerves.

And I’m sure that some of you would have gone through, or are going through some of these, whether you’ve:
Just started secondary school
Or joined the sixth form from another school
Or you’ve just come back from a life changing summer

Whether you’ve realised yet that moving up in school also means longer and harder work
Or you’ve taken up a new job in the school

A few weeks ago a moved to St Albans, and I’d never been here before going to the interview. I have a new job in a very, very, very big building (I mean, have you seen the size of this place?). New house, new area, new place to work, new job, new people to work with (and i don’t know if you’ve met them but some of them can be a little bit…..weird). And that’s all exciting, but its also a bit scary.

And that’s ok.

Because these moments in our lives bring with them possibilities. Right now we have the chance to be whoever we want to be this year. And the beginning of this term gives us the chance to re-invent ourselves or resolve to become a better person. You can become the person who tries hard, when maybe you didn’t before. You could be the person who isn’t afraid to ask questions any more. Or the person who isn’t scared of standing up for something you believe in.

But its up to us what we make of this opportunity. No one will sit through this year for you. No one will make your friends, or do your work, get involved in your groups for you. No one else can decide your attitude. Its up to you what you make of this moment, and this year.

If you were listening closely, you will remember that our first reading from the book of Job asked the question, where can wisdom be found?
Where is the ability to know what is right and true?
Where is the ability found, to make the right decisions?

And Job says that wisdom can’t be bought. It’s not something you can go to the shops for or order off Amazon. No amount of gold, or silver or jewels can buy wisdom, not even the rarest or finest of jewels. And nothing can make up for it.

Job says that wisdom is only found in the ways of God, that in following His ways, we can become wise. And we know from Jesus’ teachings, that involves loving God, ourselves and each other. And that when we move away from doing wrong and evil things, we show understanding.

Our actions display our understanding.

If you’re rude, and insulting, then it shows you have little understanding, and little wisdom.
But if you’re kind, accepting of others, and respectful, that shows that you not only understand the school policy about respecting all which Mr Wellbeloved will remind us of later, but you’re on the right path to gain true wisdom.

Paul reminds us however not to go in the other direction. In our second reading from one of his letters to the Corinthians he reminds us not to deceive ourselves, that we’re not perfect and that we ALL, and I do mean ALL, you, me, everyone sat up here, your teachers and your parents, ALL of us have things to learn.

And its good to be reminded of this.

This is your year.
Decide what you want from it.
Whatever you want to do with your year, know that you have your teachers, friends, parents, and all of us here in the cathedral to support and pray for you. And I look forward to getting to know you, and finding out what you do with this year.