Elevation of the Cross

THE ELEVATION OF THE CROSS

 

Objectives:

  1. Students should recognize a cross and how to make the sign of the cross.
  2. Students should know the story of St. Helen and the finding of the Holy Cross.

3.   Why is the cross important to us as Christians?

 

Possible lesson plan:

 

  1. Open with prayer. Practice making the sign of the cross as you pray.

 

  1. Tell the story of St. Helen and the finding of the Holy Cross, using the icon as a picture to illustrate the story for the students:

 

The Empress Helen, mother of the great Emperor Constantine, was traveling to the Holy Land, the land where Jesus had lived and died and risen from the dead.  All the palace was in an uproar.  The servants prepared food for the journey, packed the clothing, and made everything ready for the royal family to travel.  The Empress was a Christian – one who believed that Jesus was the true God.  She was going to the Holy Land to find the places and things the Bible told about.

            Soon, the royal party – the empress, her ladies, her soldiers, and her servants – reached the Holy Land.  The royal ship, with its sails of purple silk trimmed with gold, landed at the port of Joppa on the Mediterranean Sea.  There, camels and horses and donkeys waited to carry them inland.  The road was hot and dusty; the sun beat down on them.  Finally, they reached the city of Jerusalem.  They could almost feel the presence of Jesus.  These were the very streets He had walked about 300 years before.

            Empress Helen had the servants put up silken tents on a hill outside the city.  The hill was called Golgotha, a dusty mound with a few bent and twisted old olive trees growing nearby.  What was special about this hill?  The Bible says that Golgotha was where Jesus was crucified.  No one had seen the cross on which the Lord died, but, somewhere on that dusty hill, Empress Helen was sure that she would find three crosses.  The Lord had given her many dreams and visions that had started her on this journey.  He would surely show her how to complete her task.  Helen prayed.  Then, she told her men to begin digging, not on top of the hill, but in a little gully to the side.  As they dug, the men became more and more excited.  Suddenly, one of them found something wooden.  It was a cross!  Soon, there were three wooden crosses uncovered.  But, which one was the cross of Jesus Himself?

            The Bishop of Jerusalem, Macarius, suggested a way to find out.  He know of a woman who was sick, so sick she was about to die.  He had his servants carry the woman out to the hill.  The woman was tired and wondered what was happening.  Then, the bishop asked the sick woman to touch the first cross; nothing happened.  She touched the second cross; nothing happened.  Then she touched the third cross; suddenly she was full of energy and life and was well again.  Surely this was the true cross of Christ!

            The Empress Helen sent word to her son, the Emperor Constantine, that they had found the true cross of Jesus Christ.  There was rejoicing in all the Christian Churches.  The emperor ordered that a church be built there on the Mount of Olives.  He reminded all the people that, wonderful though it was to find the wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified, we do not worship the cross but the Lord who died on it.  And so it is to this day.

 

 

      3.   Teach and sing, complete with prostrations:

 

Before thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master,

And thy holy resurrection we glorify.

4. Why is the cross so important to us as Christians? Discuss with the students; get their ideas. What happened on the cross? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Why was there so much rejoicing at the finding of the cross? Why do we wear crosses to this day, and cross ourselves, and have crosses in and on our churches?

5. Play a learning game: Musical questions. Have a boombox with a tape of music (maybe from Holy Friday services?) Just like musical chairs, chairs should be lined up with one too few for the number of students. Play the music. When it stops, students try to find seats. The one without a seat is “out” unless he can answer a question from today’s lesson. If he answers correctly, he continues to play.

           6. Cross Seed Mosaic: Take a paper plate. Draw a cross on it. Have available various

seeds: Lentils, dried peas, barley, black beans, dried corn, etc. to make different   colors. Students can decorate the plate and cross with the seeds, outlining and making it beautiful.

         7. Conclude with prayer, again practicing the sign of the cross.