A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with the Dean of Union Theological Seminary. I met him at the Charlotte campus of the seminary. While walking into the school I noticed a very unique cross on the front lawn. (pictured above).
Look closely at the picture of the cross. What do you notice?
As I studied it, I noticed two pictures. The lower picture depicted Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. There is a dove in the background that is meant to portray the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ head is encircled by a halo, also called a nimbus. And you can just see the three points of a cross within the halo if you look closely.
The picture above this one is of Jesus during the last supper. In his right hand he holds the cup, and in his left hand he holds the bread, signifying his body and blood. Once again Jesus has the halo above his head.
In the center of the top of the cross you will see a single flame. This flame symbolizes the tongues of fire that hovered over the disciples during the first Pentecost; the coming of the Holy Spirit.
I found this cross to be exceeding interesting and rich with meaning. I especially liked that it displayed baptism and communion because these are the two sacraments of the Presbyterian church.
A sacrament is a visible symbol that represents an invisible reality.
In baptism the waters represent the deeper meaning of being washed of our sins and beginning a new life in Christ. In communion the bread and cup represent Jesus’ body and blood and the sacrifice he made for us. It was neat to see this cross encapsulate these images in such an artistic way.
It made me wonder: what has been one of the most memorable crosses you have seen?
The cross is a symbol that has endured around the world for 2,000 years. It reminds us of Jesus’ self-sacrificial love. The cross encourages us to love others with this same kind of love.
In the Gospel of Matthew we see that:
Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Taking up our cross is not easy work! It requires denying the parts of myself that move me away from self-sacrificial love. Things like selfishness, greed and ego.
Taking up our cross means following Jesus, through thick and thin, at all costs.
Taking up our cross means willingly submitting ourselves to the work of reconciliation around the world.
Today, let us remember the power of the cross. It is a symbol that reminds us that God gave everything for us, and now invites us to follow him.