Almighty God, thou hast set above all things the cross of Jesus Christ thy Son. All things are now changed by that cross—all values, and meanings, and influences. Those things that were princely have become mean; ambitions have been rebuked, powers have been overthrown, and the weakness of God is stronger than the might of men. We now see these truths as we never saw them before, and they make us glad. We have been blind, we have been groping in infinite darkness, not knowing the right hand from the left; but now that we have seen the cross we know how all things lie, where heaven is, where thy throne is set, and we see a great light far away, shining like an infinite welcome. We bless thee for the cross of Christ: it is the way to heaven; it is the mystery of love; it is high above us like a great sky, yet round about us like a living air. We will not glory but in the cross: its shame is greater in glory than is all the pride in creation; its very weakness is almightiness; its condescension is majesty. Thy love is shown in the cross of Jesus; and we need that cross more and more as we see what sin is, and feel how poor and weak we are ourselves. Blessed cross! Tree of death, yet tree of life; an open way for sinners only into heaven’s eternal peace. Precious cross of Christ! The life of the world, the security of the universe; we gather round thee and bless the love that set thee up. We are crucified with Christ: nevertheless we live; yet not we, but Christ liveth in us: and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself for us. No man entereth into this wisdom but he who is taught of God. Verily it is folly of all folly to those who serve the flesh and are greedy for the world. How nobly wise, how tenderly beautiful, is the cross of Christ to those who have begun to see that without the cross the world is a deception and life an intolerable lie! We praise thee for what visions we have had of the cross: they have made us glad; we can never forget them; they have given a new setting and tone to our whole life: we are debtors to the cross, and our debt we can never pay. Help us to think upon these things with steadfastness of attention. May we know that these are the deep things of God, that the universe is but a temporary accident, the momentary clothing of God, to be thrown off and forgotten, but at the heart of things lies the eternal fact of sacrifice. Save us from distracted attention; save us from mistaking things for great because they are only near; give us the genius of the heart which sees things as they really are; and give us that true wisdom which knows where to build the altar and to what to offer the tribute of our life. We are here but for a day or two; we are pilgrims and can tarry but for a night; we are on the high road: we cannot see more than one step at a time; the next step may be the grave, or there may be long checkered years yet before us and to be traversed: help us to lay hold of thy hand, O Leading One; to stop where thou dost stop; teach us that to obey is to conquer, that to receive God’s will and live it is to be in God’s heaven: then shall we have no unrest, or disquiet, or cancer of the heart eating out our love and peace; we shall be calm with God’s tranquility and steadfast in God’s almightiness. Regard us as men who need daily light and daily care. Thou didst never put two days into any man’s hand at once. We are not to boast of tomorrow. Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men: the true, the noble, the beautiful, the good are taken away like shadows; those whom we accounted as rocks are overturned, and we shall see their faces no more; the great and the small die. Help us to know that though we too must die, yet whilst we live we may live a doubly energetic or beneficent life. May we work with both hands earnestly, sparing nothing, hiding in our hearts the sweet thought that the Son of man may come today. Blessed are they who shall be found ready when he opens heaven’s door, and comes down to claim the issue of his sacrifice. May he see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! In that spirit would we wait and toil and hope, not as fools but as wise, seizing time with a strong hand, and filling it to the full with duty and with sacrifice. Heal our broken hearts; dry our penitential tears; subdue our unholy anger, and lead us in the way everlasting. Speak to the old man, and he will be young again; lay thy hand, so gentle because so mighty, on the youngest child and the weakest life, and it shall become dignified and noble. Visit our sick-chambers; we steal up to them, lest the very noise of the footfall should injure those we love; do thou go in with the boldness of love, and heal our sick with the momentary health of the body or with the immortality which comes through faith. Watch us; care for us; be pitiful to us. We are bruised reeds; we are as smoking flax; we are as a flower which cometh for a little time and then passeth away because the wind is cold. We know our prayer shall be heard; for thy mercy reacheth unto the heavens. Amen.