Holy Cross Day – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world…”Galatians 6:14-18

Jesus was convinced and, ultimately, convincing that on the other side of death – death in its many forms – is life.  Jesus says, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”[i] Here’s the best way for us to lose our life on Jesus’ terms: surrender.  Surrender the lordship of our life to Jesus Christ, who wants to live within us.  The only way to live life – which can be such a killer – is to allow Jesus Christ to live within us.  This was St. Paul’s discovery.  In his writings, St. Paul uses one particular phrase more than 85 times: “…in Christ.”   He speaks of living his life “in Christ.”  “No longer” living life on others’ terms or even on his own terms – he’s “no longer” doing that, he says repeatedly – but now living his life “in Christ.”[ii]

Live your life inside of Christ, who lives inside of you.  Surrender your life, surrender your destiny, surrender your death – your deaths – to Christ, and take him at his word: that life for you comes out of death.  Your dying is the gateway to rising.  You will face death many-a-time in this life, and that is the very cross that Jesus is sharing with you.  Live your life inside of Christ who lives inside you and you will absolutely, positively, undeniably, miraculously discover how life comes out of death.

There’s two ways to know this to be true about the way of the cross: how life can come out of death for you. Remember your own life experience.  How has this been true for you in the past: life coming out of death?  The principal founder of SSJE, Richard Meux Benson, wrote in a colloquy: “A disciple asks Christ, ‘Teach me the law of the Holy Cross, the mystery of our redemption.’  To which Christ replies, ‘My child, you must learn this mystery by experience: Take up your cross and it will teach you all things.’”[iii]  And so for you.  Your cross is your teacher.  Where can you recall how your breaking has been your making, how your dying has led to your rising, where life – real life, amazing life, abundant life – has come out of something that just killed you?  This is not about resuscitation; this is about transformation, the transformation of your life. Draw on the miracle of your personal experience, how life, absolutely transformed life, has come out of death in your own past.  That cycle will repeat.

Secondly, if right now you can find no hope but only suffering and desolation in the cross you are carrying – what is just killing you now – surrender your life and surrender your death, your many deaths, to Jesus.  The weaker you are, the more powerless you feel, the more you will be able to understand this.  You have nothing more to lose.  Live your life inside of Christ who lives inside of you.  He will embody you and enable you.  This is Jesus’ way, the way of the cross.  And it’s within reach.  It’s within Jesus’ reach for you.  And that he does: reaches out for you, carries you, makes good on his promise that life, amazing life, comes out of death.

[i] Matthew 16:25.

[ii] St. Paul speaks of the radical turnabout in the management of his former life, using the term “no longer” more than 25 times.

[iii] Richard Meux Benson, SSJE (1824-1915).

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  1. Janet O'Flynn on September 14, 2019 at 09:49

    What I like is that this is the voice of lived experience. This really happened. This really happens.

  2. Ruth West on September 15, 2018 at 23:11

    This sermon sums up the requirements for becoming a follower of Christ, I think. What must one do to find the way to life everlasting? First and foremost, he/she surrenders her/his life to our Lord God. All that one is, has been and hopes to be, is laid at the foot of the cross. When we give all to Him, He can dwell in us and we in Him. I feel that so strongly when I receive His Body and Blood at the altar. He is in me; I am in Him.

  3. Margaret Dungan on September 14, 2018 at 15:51

    Thank you BR Curtis,

    A few words can mean so much.


  4. Jerry on September 14, 2018 at 10:06

    I have experienced this in recovery.

  5. Harriet on September 14, 2018 at 09:12

    It sounds so easy…why is it so hard to surrender all to Christ? How to turn those moments of death into life everlasting? Thank you for the explanation, but I’m still confused.

  6. James Rowland on September 14, 2018 at 08:19

    Yes, Br. Curtis, this is strange but true. It seems so contradictory, to save your life by losing it. I scramble to hold on then find myself in “free fall”, held “in Christ”. Then my life, in its most real sense, is possible.

  7. CR on September 14, 2018 at 07:23


  8. SusanMarie on September 14, 2018 at 06:23

    These are some of the truest words I’ve ever read! This is how life works. And today I am embarking on a journey that in some way or another will change my life forever. But for that to happen, I must surrender many things — most of all my fear of and resistance to change. It is absolutely a form of dying. And all will be well!

    • Tim on September 14, 2018 at 09:17

      You have written something very profound here. Thank you.

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