November Newsletter

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Thanks to the hard work of our Cross Committee, the 18-foot-wide and 35-foot-tall cross has been put up in the back lot of the church. This project started because when the latest addition was added on, the large wooden cross on the west side of the building had to be taken down. Numerous people commented on how much they missed seeing that cross and how we needed to do something to replace it. With the height difference between the additions, it was impossible to put a similar cross back up. Thus the beginning of our “Lift High the Cross” project.

The hymn, Lift High the Cross, is one which has been around since the early 1900’s. It was first published in the United States in 1974. It is hymn which is typically used for special processionals (entrances into church) where the processional cross is lifted up high and carried to the front of the sanctuary. The hymn is also used at many funerals for it is the cross of Christ that brings us the peace in that our sins are forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

But where did the inspiration for such a beloved hymn come from?

Don’t stop here … I’ll explain further.

Lift High the Cross was written by George Kitchin back in 1887. At the time, he was the Dean of Winchester for the Church of England. It has been suggested that the hymn was inspired by Constantine the Great’s conversion to Christianity after having a vision with the “In hoc signo vinces” inscribed on a cross.

Now what in the world does “in hoc signo vinces” mean? Well, it is Latin for “in this sign you will conquer.”

The story is that Constantine, a Roman Emperor, was not a Christian, at least not at first. But during his reign, Christianity was transitioning into being the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine had a vision and in this vision he saw a cross. The cross had the words “in hoc signo vinces” on it. “In this sign {of the cross} you will conquer.” I’m not sure how long after this vision Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, but through this edict, Constantine in 313 AD announced “that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best.” This made the Roman Empire neutral with regard to religious worship. Christianity no longer had to hide but could worship in public.

Over the centuries, the symbolism of the cross has changed. It was considered the most excruciating and most feared tool of capital punishment. Now it is a symbol of hope and strength. By Jesus’ death on the cross, He won salvation for us. And because of this we are drawn to the cross, just as the Israelites were drawn to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness.

We lift up this cross for others to see. Eventually our cross will have lights on it and people will be able to see this symbol of hope and peace as they drive by on the interstate. We will also have benches surrounding it and some amazing landscaping, like a little prayer garden, so that people can sit at the foot of the cross and offer up their prayers to the One who hears and answers them.

As the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2 NIV84). May all those who look upon this cross, which has been lifted up high, remember what it is that Jesus did on the cross, know that their sins are forgiven, and that with Jesus, they can conquer all things.

God’s blessings to you all!

Pastor Mike


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