Festival of the Holy Cross
One of the earliest annual celebrations of the Church, Holy Cross Day traditionally commemorated the discovery of what was alleged to be the original cross of Jesus in a cave near Jerusalem, on September 14, 320. The cross was found by Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. A basilica was dedicated on the site of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, and in 335 Constantine made the day an official empire-wide festival day. Helena, a devout Christian locate and authenticate may sites believed to be the actual locations of various events in the life and ministry our Lord Jesus Christ. Holy Cross Day has remained popular in Eastern and Western Christianity. Many Lutheran congregations were names “Holy Cross.
The festival soon developed into a superstitious veneration of the alleged original wood of the cross, a dubious “discovery” at best. It was restored to a proper Evangelical observance at the time of the Lutheran Reformation.
And so on this day, we pray: “Merciful God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, was lifted high upon the cross that He might bear the sins of the world and draw all people to Himself. Grant that we who glory in His death for our redemption may faithfully heed His call to bear the cross and follow Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
The Bible readings for this festival are: Numbers 21:4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 12:20-33.