On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
I have seen Coptic crosses in Cairo and Greek crosses in Athens, and Latin crosses in Rome, and Celtic Crosses in Ireland. I like the cross at St. Paul’s Cathedral made from the recovered nails of its burned out predecessor, a kind of iron apostolic succession.
But the best of all is the achingly simple young rugged cross of our church of St. Andrews.
When our parish was still a mission and parish members confronted the towering task of constructing a new building, they needed a cross, of course. But they were frugal (and dissatisfied) with expensive bronze or brass versions. Toddy Hagen spoke up and said, “I take walks along the lake shore, where there is a lot of drift wood. I’ll look for something.”
How will you know, when you find the right pieces,” she was asked.
“Oh, I will just know.” Sure enough she came back with two pieces, which just fit on her living room floor. They were then lovingly knotted together by the Sunday school classes. While on a trip to Cape Cod, Toddy found some fishing net on the beach which could literally make us “fishers of men (and women.)
For me the best part is that the cross is crooked, symbolic of Christ taking our flawed personhood. Sitting in the choir loft at the back of the church, I get to look at it straight on. On its four points of the cross, I hang and trail my blessing and my sins.
Then, when I stand at the altar step to receive the bread and the wine, I look up and miraculously, the cross no longer cants, and its angles lead straight to Christ and the Father.
“Lift high the Cross, The love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred name.”
St. Andrew’s Church, Colchester