Take Up Your Cross and Follow Christ
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Christ
The Raredos of St. Luke Lutheran Church consists of thirteen stained glass panels which are constructed to be a memorial to the Christian Life. They are designed to be a visual reminder of many of the ways our Lord Jesus Christ calls us all to "take up our cross and follow Him". Each of the crosses expressed have a historical association with one of the teachings of our Lord about the life of faith. Each one also has its roots and its significance in the history of the Christian Church.
They are illuminated from behind so that their lighted presence form a halo around the Christian Life. Each one represents an aspect of the life Christ calls us to be part of here and now.
Since our God has chosen to come to us through the avenues of all our senses; these panes seek to minister to us through sight and knowledge. They are a visual proclamation which center upon our free hanging crucifix which proclaims our "Lord's death until he comes again". "Amen, come Lord Jesus!"
As Lutherans, we proclaim that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a "Theology of the Cross". That it is in the cross that our Lord's mission and our salvation is revealed in all of its fullness. It is fitting that the Holy Spirit has led Christ's people throughout our earthly history, reminding us through expressions of those crosses that following Christ in faith truly means we live a life that is represented by each of these crosses.
May they serve to be a visual reminder of the life of faith and a memorial to those we have loved who have lived and led us into a life of faith in Christ our Lord.
THE ANKH CROSS
This comes to us from the Coptic Church. The Coptic Church is the oldest Christian denomination in existence. Legend credits the Eunuch baptized by Phillip as beginning this denomination in Ethiopia. It is also called the Egyptian Cross because of the combination cross and the pre-Christian Egyptian symbol (the loop) at the top of the cross. This was the Egyptian symbol for life. The pre-Christian religions of Egypt were more concerned about afterlife than any other religion that we know of. Their dead were buried with their worldly goods to assist them in their afterlife. Sometimes their servants were buried with them as well.
As the Christian Church grew, this practice of burial was criticized because of Christ's death and resurrection. They were instead to be seen as gifts from God to be shared in this life sacrificially. The combination of cross and loop reminded them and us of this fact. This cross has become associated with "sacrificial giving"
THE CROSS PATEE
This Latin cross issues from the Medieval Period and represents both the upright or stipes and the horizontal or parebilum sections of the cross as broad strong arms.
Jesus said, "If someone strikes you on the left cheek, offer them the right one also". In other words, we are to offer passive resistance to violence. The broad arms of the Cross Patee are a reminder that since a strike upon the left cheek would by the back of the hand, it would in Jesus' time be symbolic of an insult. In bearing our cross and following Christ, we may indeed be insulted and jeered. This is to be expected and the strong broad arms of the Cross Patee are to convey the power we can receive from the cross of Christ to endure.The Cross Patee has become associated with "turning the other cheek".
THE CROSS FLOWERETTE
A common French expression of the Middle Ages. The flowering ends of each arm of the cross are typically tri-folded to be symbolic of the Triune God. It is a Roman or Latin cross and has become associated with expression of our faith in Christ by following his example of "having compassion". As Christ identified himself and us with the suffering of others, we "take up our cross" when we seek to minister to those who suffer. The Cross Flowerette makes us mindful of the truth that our faith flowers in the presence of suffering. In having compassion we discover beauty instead of ashes.
THE INVERTED CROSS
An early developing expression of the cross long associated with, and often named St. Peters Cross. It is thus named because Christian legend states that St. Peter who was martyred by the Emperor Nero of Rome chose to be crucified upside down. St. Peter, it is told, did not believe "himself worthy to be crucified the same way as his Lord Jesus Christ". With it's association with the Martyrdome of St. Peter, this cross has come to remind all of us of the fact that "being persecuted" for our faith in Christ can become a reality of "taking up our cross and following". Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". In the inverted cross we are made mindful not only of the possibility of persecution for our faith, but the reality of our prayers at all times for our Christian family of al denominations who may indeed be persecuted this very hour.
THE CROSS MALTESE
This cross originated as the badge of the Republic of Amalfi. It was adopted at the beginning of the ninth century by the Benedictine Order stationed at a hospital in Jerusalem. During the Crusades, it became synonymous with the Knight Templars, the order of St. John the Hospitaliers. These Knights were encharged with the operation of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and were also its protectors. Thus this expression of the cross became associated with "defending the oppressed". The Maltese Cross is a configuration of four spear points meeting tip to tip at the center. There are always eight points total at the outer edges that are symbolic of the eight beatitudes. As we "take up our cross and follow Christ" we are reminded by the Maltese Cross that faithful living means defending the oppressed of our time and place in word and deed.
THE CROSS PIERCED
This cross is a Greek cross. A Greek cross is identified by the fact that all four arms appear to be of equal length. Actually the lower arm is slightly longer because on a flat surface the eye would see it as shorter due to an optical illusion. The Greek cross is an ancient expression used widely in the Eastern churches. It has come to find many and various expressions of detail from very plain to extremely ornate, flowered and adorned. One example of this is the ancient Persian Cross of Kottayam which was developed by the Syrian Jacobite Christians for use in India. The Cross Pierced is one with a clear hole through the center. This clear hole has come to symbolize the promise of eternal life as seen through the Cross of Christ. The association with the sight of eternity through the cross has brought the cross pieced to symbolized "being faithful unto death". As we "take up our cross and follow Christ", we are reminded by the Cross Pierced that the strength to live faithfully does not come from this world but from the certainty of life eternal.
THE CROSS PORTATE
This Cross forms the central link in the Reredos. It is also the central link as we consider "taking up our cross and following Christ". It is an expression of the cross as it was carried by our Lord on his way to Golgatha. The central truth of Christ's crucifixion for us is the truth that fires a faith in the love of God that enables us to "take up our cross and follow Christ". The Cross Portate in the form which we now have is a product of the French monasteries. It comes to us from the Fourteenth Century. The name comes from the French language, (portate) "to carry". As the Cross Portate links the other 12 crosses together, we are reminded that the Christian life of faith consists of "taking up our cross" in all the ways depicted by the Reredos as well as other ways in which God calls us.
THE OPEN CROSS
This cross is significant because neither the stipes or the patibilim are closed at the ends. This cross is also called the giving cross because it reminds us that the gift Christ gave us in his crucifixion never ceases to continue giving. It is a Latin cross which is descript in that the patibilim or horizontal arms of the cross are shorter than the stipes or vertical arms. The arms being open at each end are unique and again come to from the "Heraldry" of the Middle Ages. The open ends are intended to remind us that as we "take up our cross and follow" we are encouraged by our Lord to "share freely" and "cheerfully" the gifts and possessions that we have been given by God. This cross is a symbolic call to remind us that Christian stewardship is not a matter of dollars and cents but a life style that reflects our faith. In word and deed, we are called by Christ to "give cheerfully".
THE ANCHOR CROSS
This cross is historically the oldest expression of the cross apart from the Crucifix. Its image is found on the walls of the Catacombs and early Christian tombs. Some scholars believe that its early use is the work of some of the apostles who were fisherman by trade. They would indeed have known the value of a firm yet unseen anchor in a stormy sea. The Anchor Cross as a part of the Reredos causes us to remember that we, too, have an unseen anchor in Christ as we encounter the storms of this life. The certainty of the Anchor Cross' symbolism has helped to associate this cross over the centuries with the "taking up your cross and following" by "suffering patiently".
THE CROSS SALTIRE
This cross is also called the Cross of St. Andrew and St. Allan. Historically, this cross was the type of cross which the Persians used for crucifixion. It is believed that St. Andrew the Apostle was martyred on this type of cross at Patras, Acaia. Andrew was Peters brother and was responsible for bringing Peter to Jesus. Ancient legends describe Andrew as the evangelist to Sythia, parts of Greece and possibly parts of Russia. This cross is on the flags of both Scotland and England St. Andrew's faith caused him to travel far and wide proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus the Cross of St. Andrew has become associated with a part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. As we view it we are reminded that as "take up our cross and follow", we are "go that extra mile", to seek and serve others in the name of Christ our Lord.
THE FITCHED CROSS
The Fitched Cross or "Pointed Cross" comes again like some others from Heraldry, or the art of ornamenting the Knights shields, tunics and banners. The Fitched or pointed cross is symbolic of "self denial". This was one of the Christian Knights solemn oaths. This cross has many variations. One of the most common is that the points of the cross form a three pointed arm, symbolic of the Trinity. A second common form had a pointed lower arm. The practice seemed to develop from having a fitched or pointed cross that could actually be driven into the ground. There, before the cross, the Knights would retire to have their personal devotions while encamped. We are reminded by the "fitched" cross that when we "take up our cross and follow" that we are called upon to deny ourselves in caring for others. This denial can, as the "fitched cross" exhibits, cut us sharply, but in self-sacrifice it reminds us that we ourselves shine brightly before the throne of our Lord.
THE JERUSALEM CROSS
This cross comes to us from Crusades. It is also the predominant expression of the cross for most Eastern Orthodox Christians. The development of this expression of the cross comes from Jerusalem. The Western Christian Crusaders were impressed by the practice of the Eastern Christians that they encountered during the Crusades. The Eastern Christian stood for their worship. Many, as it was seen, stood only through the aid of crutches. The Jerusalem Cross consists of a Greek cross with four symbols for crutches, above and below each arm of the cross. This cross is also called the Cross Cantonny which is a "heraldry" word for the corner of a shield. Thus, this cross is four cornered. It has through the ages of faith come to express the meaning of "bearing one another¹s burdens". The Jerusalem Cross reminds us that as we "take up our cross and follow" we commit ourselves to "bearing the burdens of others" and like the crutches represented in this cross we carry other through word and deed on the backs of our faith.
THE CROSS RAYONNY
This cross is a Latin cross imposed upon the flashing light of a glorious sunrise. It is also called the "Cross in Glory", for it has come to symbolize the Cross of Christ in the light of his resurrection. At times, this cross has been adorned with Easter lilies but most often it is represented by the rays of the sun behind the cross. In this cross, we rejoice in the fact that the Easter dawn brought the truth of Christ's Cross into the fullness of the light. "He is not dead, but alive". The despair of the crucifixion is overcome by the dawn of Christ's resurrection. The rays of the sun reveal the truththat God is not a God of the dead, but of the "living". Our Lord's resurrection commits each and every one of the faithful, to live as this cross symbolizes, lives that rejoice in "hope". The hope of the promise of our Lord that "he goes to prepare a place for us".