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Seeing the Cross, Missing Its Meaning

For the past two thousand years followers of Christ have placed the cross at the very center of their worship. In the beginning of The Cross of Christ, John Stott, an Anglican priest, imagines a non-Christian tourist coming to services at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. As she nears the building, she spots the huge golden cross that sits atop the dome. Upon entering, she observes that the very architecture of the building is cruciform, with its nave and transepts forming the shape of a cross. As she sits down, the service opens with the entrance of a processional cross, and the congregation begins singing the hymn “Lift High the Cross.” Later, people are invited forward to receive the bread and wine, which the minister describes as the body and blood of Christ. She sees the worshipers “signing the cross” on their foreheads and hearts. At the end, as Stott imagines it, the visitor can be forgiven for wondering, “What are the grounds, and what is the significance, of this concentration on the cross?”

- John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986), 12.

Granted that the cross is prominent in most of our church sanctuaries, would a total outsider still be able to discern the shadow of the cross in our lives and in our worship?