Today in the Orthodox Church we are celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross of our Savior. One of the hymns from the post-feast proclaims:
Today Your precious Cross, O Savior Christ,
shone forth radiantly like the sun,
set up and elevated on the all-glorious Place of the Skull:
on Your all-holy mountain,
openly revealing that by it, O all-powerful One,
You have raised our nature to the heavens,
for You are the Lover of mankind.
There is a play on ideas, of course. Christ is raised up on the cross to glory, but simultaneously it is His crucifixion. He who triumphs over death is first subject to death for our salvation. The Cross becomes the Christ’s throne and footstool – the very place where the Lord of Glory “rests” His feet while enthroned.
“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His footstool for He is holy.” (Ps 98:5)
“The ‘footstool’ serves as a key term in the liturgical services held on September 14, functioning as a bridge between the two sides of the Lord’s profile: king and sufferer. The footstool refers to both throne (or ark of covenant) and the cross. The paradoxical juxtaposition of exaltation (throne or ark) and extreme humility (cross) is the very theme of the feast of the ‘Exaltation of the Precious Cross.’ Through scriptural lessons read at the Vespers and Liturgy, and through hymns and antiphons, we are introduced to the mood of Good Friday and to the post-resurrection times — the liturgical life of the Church as advancement toward the eschaton.” (Eugen Pentiuc, THE OLD TESTAMENT IN EASTERN ORTHODOX TRADITION, p 222)