Once, I was a guest preacher at an Anglican church in the Washington DC area. It was the first of two services that Lord’s Day. I was in the narthex, lining up for the processional.
That morning a little girl was chosen to lead the processional and bear the cross. The eleven or twelve-year-old child-crucifer was a picture of holy dedication in her white surplice, bearing, with all dignity, a tall cross (that was, at least, twice her height). I was particularly moved by the profound visage of this little girl leading us with the cross. I leaned down and whispered, “I think you are going to do great this morning.” Like a sentry on watch she was hesitant to speak lest she lose her primary focus. The diminutive daughter of the King continued to look up at the symbol of our faith rising skyward . Holding the processional cross with all seriousness, making sure that it was perfectly vertical, leaning not this way nor that, the sweet child replied with her wide-eyed, focused gaze still fixed on the cross before her:
“Sir, this is not really about me. This is all about the cross. I am doing this for Jesus.”
Ah! I was duly reprimanded! I immediately rearranged my facial expression to try and mimic her own solemn countenance. Once more, I spoke in a reverent and hushed tone:
“Yes, my child. This is all for Jesus. But I do believe our Lord is proud of you.”
As she led the processional of choir and clergy, we moved through the People, from the People, and walking as one towards the chancel, the congregation rose. The combining sounds of musical instrument and human voice seemed to lift us to heaven with the majestic hymn, “Lift High the Cross.” I don’t think I shall ever forget that moment.
A little child; the cross; a hymn; and a personal sermon given by a little girl. Such a rarified moment in time that! The moment endures, memorialized in my being by the child’s faith, and leading my heart to a glorious nexus of time and eternity.
O how I do so cherish that experience. When I am patient and when I listen with my heart, the child still teaches me. On this Ash Wednesday I will cherish that vision, that voice, and that sacred movement in the sanctuary until I join with angels and archangels, and with all the saints, to worship that One who died on that cross for you and me. For all seasons are seasons of His grace, and all seasons are leading us to home.
“This is all about the cross. This is for Jesus.”
Lead on, my little one. Lead on.