Historically, the cross of the Presbyterian Church is the Celtic Cross. This cross serves as a reminder of our historical roots, dating back to the early church, through the Protestant Reformation, and on to the great missionary movements to bring the Gospel of God’s Grace to the whole world. We are reminded that today, we are called to be a missional church, true to our heritage, but relevant to the world in which we find ourselves.
This cross communicates important things:
- The cross itself is a symbol of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The cross reminds us that God’s love and life are ours to enjoy because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross in our place. It also reminds us that the message of the Gospel is at the center of our calling as a church, and that we exist to invite others to share in this fellowship with Christ.
- The circle behind the cross is a symbol of God’s eternal being, power, and unending glory. The symbol on the ends of the cross (called a Triquetra) is an ancient symbol of the Trinity. The dove in the center represents the Holy Spirit. The chalice (or cup) at the bottom of the cross represents the Sacraments given to us by Christ as means of grace.
- The scrollwork underneath the cross is probably the most recognizable element of Celtic artwork. It reminds us that we are linked together, as the life we have in Christ is to be lived out in community, loving one another, praying for one another, and encouraging one another on a regular basis.
This cross was used by Christians in the Middle Ages to clearly communicate Christ against the pagan culture of the day. When these early missionaries would enter a new area, they would plant one of these crosses in that place or carve one of these crosses into Runes (ancient stones), thus claiming the people of that area for Christ and announcing that the Gospel has come to that place. It was a deliberate and conscious testimony to the power of the Gospel to change people and places that were originally deeply hostile to Christ and His Church.
This cross is a needed symbol for us today as we are here to communicate Christ and His Word to a postmodern culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ, His Word, and His Church. May God use this symbol to further His Kingdom.