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LCC chaplain dedicates cross at Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses

December 15, 2014 No Comment

The Air Task Force Lithuania chaplain [Rev. Gerson Flor] blesses the cross during the dedication ceremony of Canada's cross for NATO Baltic Air Policing Block 36 on November 30, 2014 at the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai, Lithuania. (Photo: Photo: Air Task Force - OP Reassurance, DND)

The Air Task Force Lithuania chaplain [Rev. Gerson Flor] blesses the cross during the dedication ceremony of Canada’s cross for NATO Baltic Air Policing Block 36 on November 30, 2014 at the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai, Lithuania. (Photo: Photo: Air Task Force – OP Reassurance, DND)

LITHUANIA – On November 30, the first Sunday of Advent, the Canadian Air Task Force in Lithuania placed a cross on the Hill of Crosses, a national historic and pilgrimage site. Rev. Gerson Flor, a member of Lutheran Church–Canada and chaplain with the Canadian forces serving in Lithuania, was present for the event, blessing the cross and speaking on its significance.

“The Hill of Crosses is both a pilgrimage site and a historical national landmark,” explained an Air Force release. “The practice of leaving crosses on the hill is believed to date back as early as the 1830s during the Polish-Russian War as a peaceful protest against oppression.” Today, the site houses thousands of crosses (estimates suggested more than 100,000 had been placed by 2006), with more being added weekly.

Members of the Canadian Air Task Force, along with Lithuanian and Portuguese air personnel also serving in the mission, gathered for the dedication of the Canadian cross, an event was subsequently reported in local media.

Rev. Flor addresses the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Lithuanian Air Force, and Portuguese Air Force Detachment during the dedication ceremony of Canada's cross. (Photo: Air Task Force - OP Reassurance, DND).

Rev. Flor addresses the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Lithuanian Air Force, and Portuguese Air Force Detachment during the dedication ceremony of Canada’s cross. (Photo: Air Task Force – OP Reassurance, DND)

“In the Christian faith, the Cross is the great sign of friendship between God and humanity,” Captain Flor said during his address. “God, being the perfection of holiness, glory, and love, did not consider humanity—whose best attempts of rising up to God fall short of His standards—unworthy of fellowship with Him.”

“Instead of rejecting us with our imperfections,” he continued, “God showed His love by coming down into our broken world, taking on Himself our humble human nature, and embracing suffering, weakness, and shame by being nailed to the cross. There He opens His arms to call all people to Himself, carrying on His body the punishment of our faults and giving us the life and blessedness that was His own.”

The Canadian Task Force is currently serving in Lithuania as part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, an assignment that lasts until the end of December this year. It is a tradition for NATO countries serving in BAP missions to place a cross at the hill.

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