Our Chancel Cross
The cross depicted on our website is an artist's rendering of the cross which hangs in our sanctuary chancel. The cross itself is a symbol that signifies the death of the only-begotten Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
Our chancel cross is beautiful in design in contrast to the rude beams on which our Savior died. By Christ's death and resurrection he transformed the instrument of pain to a symbol of his saving grace.
The form of the cross is Celtic, so that those who are familiar with that tradition will know at once upon entering this church that it is the Celtic tradition into which the Presbyterian Reformation spoke the truth of God's Word. The shape of the cross comes from the Island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, where Columba and other missionaries brought a revival of Christianity following the fall of the Roman Empire. The exact origin of its form is unknown; however some believe that the ring surrounding the cross represents the old Druid circle. In ancient pagan rites of sacrifice, the circle was used to select victims for human sacrifice. The Christian cross is superimposed upon it, forever blocking those barbaric sacrifices by the only adequate sacrifice, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Celtic cross is thought to be designed so that at sunrise during the Easter season, sunlight creates a halo of light around a west-facing, standing cross by shining through the empty spaces in the center.
Additions to the cross include a woven crown of thorns on the circle and the vine of life on the staff. At the base are the heads of two beasts, symbolizing the triumph of the cross over the powers of evil. The circular motifs on the staff have twelve parts, eight circles and four squares, recalling the groups of twelve who went out on their missionary journeys from Iona. At the top, twelve little spheres represent the Apostles. On each arm of the cross a grouping of five spheres recalls the five wounds of Christ, the nail-prints in hands and feet and the spear thrust in his side. In the center is the "Chi-Rho" symbol, the first two letters of the Greek name "Christos," with a horizontal bar to make a cross. The "rho" is in the form of a shepherd's crook.
At the ends of the limbs of the cross are the traditional symbols of the four Gospel writers, drawn from the first chapter of Ezekiel. While in captivity in Babylon, Ezekiel had a vision in which he saw four living creatures, each with four faces and four wings, one face being that of a man, one a lion, one an ox, and one the face of an eagle. The symbols have been applied in different ways, but the most common usage today is the one adopted here. The winged man is the symbol of Matthew, because he begins his gospel by tracing the human descent of Jesus. The lion represents Mark, because that writer opens his inspired book by describing the ministry of John the Baptist who "was as the voice of one crying in the wilderness." Luke is represented by an ox, because of his stress on the sacrificial death of our Lord. The symbol of John is the eagle, because his gospel soars in the heavenlies as if on eagles' wings. These figures appear also in the rose window at the rear of the church.
Please click below to read "A Guide to the Meaning of the Chancel Symbols" which includes more details of our chancel cross.