The Meaning of the Cross

September 14, 2008

( notes for an address for Family Communion on Holy Cross Day – so directed mainly to the children – but with something for the adults too!  The inspiration and some of the ideas for this come from notes for a sermon by the Revd. R J Goodchild in ‘Together for Holy Week’ published by CIO in 1981. Other ideas contributed by members of the congregation)

(visual aid – palm crosses for the children to hold and look at – and a large palm cross for everyone else to see )

( John3, 13-17)


The cross is a very simple shape – the first shape a toddler draws and the shape a very sick or dying person makes to sign their name. But like all simple symbols, has a wealth of meaning.

It is the symbol of our faith, traced on forehead in oil or water at baptism. But if you look, can see lots of other meanings.

A sign post, or cross roads – Jesus showed us we have a choice in life – to follow the wide easy road that takes us away from God – or the steep, narrow road that leads to heaven.

A ‘T’ for truth – Jesus came to show us the truth about God – that he loves us so much he sent his Son so that everyone who believes in him has eternal life ( Gospel reading)

A letter ‘I’ crossed out – We are naturally selfish beings. Jesus showed us how to live for others, not put ourselves first.

A person with open arms – on the cross Jesus was raised up with arms outstretched to draw everyone into a loving relationship with God. Our faith is a relationship, not a set of rules.

A sword – not to harm people with but to fight for right, and truth and justice.

A letter ‘X’ – this stands for nothing and it also the sign for when something is wrong ( when your books are marked at school) For our sakes, Jesus made himself nothing; he was treated as though he was the one who got it wrong.

A vertical line and a horizontal line – the vertical line takes our thoughts to heaven, and reminds us of our relationship with God. The horizontal line points out to the world and the people round us. Both are essential to our faith. You cannot just worship God and ignore the needs of others; but you cannot just do social action and not relate to God. Jesus’ summary of the law – love God, love your neighbour.

Empty – although the cross reminds us of the death of Jesus, it is an empty cross. This reminds us that though he died, Jesus was raised by God to new life, to show he did teach the truth, he was right, he did point the way to God.


other suggestions-

xxx kisses, the sign of love. Jesus came to show God’s love for us.

x a multiplication sign – Our job as Christians is to multiply that love and spread it around the world to people who don’t yet know it.

A walking stick – to remind us that Jesus is always with us, to support us when the journey of faith gets difficult.

A letter ‘J’ – for Jesus.

A crook – reminding us that Jesus said ‘I am the Good Shepherd’ and watches over us and cares for us and seeks us out when we’re lost.

A flag or banner – to wave in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Day.


Any more ideas?