First United Presbyterian Church

The Calvary Cross

When we find, “Lift High the Cross,” we may envision a cross as we sing. If so, there is more than one cross that might come to our minds.

The Latin cross may be the most familiar, the one we think of as the basic cross. It has a longer vertical arm and shorter horizontal arms, like the one in the photo here.

The Greek cross, which we have on our communion ware, has arms of the same length.

The Chi Ro, a cross superimposed with the first two letters of the Greek word “Christos,” is one of the Chrismons we enjoy on the Chrismon tree during Advent.

The Presbyterian cross is also known as a Celtic Cross. It has a circle at the junction of the arms of the cross.

The cross shown in today’s post is a Calvary cross, a Latin cross on a stepped base. The three steps represent faith, hope, and charity. “Charity” is also translated as “love.” These three virtues are identified in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Sometimes a Calvary Cross will have the three virtues written on the steps. In these cases, charity or love is often chosen for the lowest step, to show that it is the base — the greatest.

FUPC’s Calvary Cross does not have the virtues marked on the steps, but the symbolism is there for us. During Lent, as we lift high the cross, we can also be reminded to trust God steadily, to hope unswervingly, and to love extravagantly.

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