Dear Friends in Christ:
The arrival of September is always a marker of endings and beginnings. Ending, of course, is summer with the long days, fun-filled weekends, gardening, and wonderful weather (although, this summer was quite hot and humid, and still is as of the writing of this letter). Beginning is a new school year, a new football season (for those interested in football), and – once upon a time – a new television season, although, with the advent of on-demand viewing, television seasons don’t really mean much anymore. And those things are just to name a few of the endings and beginnings. Here at church September marks the return of our Sunday Adult Bible Class on September 11th at 8:15am (join us for our continued study of Ecclesiastes, followed by a new study), the opening of our parish school, confirmation classes starting, and other activities.
Many of these endings and beginnings are tied into the observation of Labor Day, which is celebrated on the first Monday in September. The long Labor Day weekend is often referred to as the end of summer and many schools and activities wait until after it has passed to begin their fall schedules. The holiday itself was founded as a workingman’s holiday and was tied to the labor movement in the late 1800’s. It was seen as a way to celebrate the strength of trade and labor organizations and the power of the American worker. In the Church Labor Day is a good time to be reminded that while we may refer to ourselves figuratively as ‘laborers in the vineyard’, our status as the People of God has nothing to do with our work. Labor Day in the church, like any other day is a time to celebrate that all the work that matters for our salvation was done by God himself.
God created the world, and even before the fall into sin He had already set into motion His plan to save the world. God’s plan from all eternity, before even the foundation of the world, was to send His Son Jesus into His creation to redeem it. Jesus, true God and Man, did all the work the God required for you to be part of His Kingdom. Jesus bore your sins and the sins of all people on the cross. He died for you and then rose from the dead to show that all the work of salvation was done.
Not only does September contain the secular celebration of Labor Day, it also contains the churchly celebration of Holy Cross Day (also called The Exaltation of the Holy Cross), September 14th. This is the day on which it is believed that St. Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, discovered the true Cross of Christ in 326AD while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is also the anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335AD. Of course, there is no way of knowing the truth of the story of St. Helena finding the true Cross. However, Holy Cross Day has become a day of rejoicing in the Holy Cross of Christ. Rejoicing in a cross?! An ancient Roman instrument of torture and execution? That seems very strange indeed, and is off-putting to many people today, just as Jesus said it would be. However, the Cross itself is a marker of beginnings and endings. For on the Cross ended the power of sin, death, and hell and on the Cross is the beginning of a new era of salvation for all who believe in (that is, trust) Jesus. On the Cross is the end your sin and the beginning of your salvation. On the Cross is the end of your death and the beginning of your life. On the Cross was accomplished the labor for an eternal lifetime with God in the new heaven and the new earth.
So in this month of endings and beginnings, find all of your endings and beginnings in Jesus Christ!
Pastor Steven J. Anderson