A couple of years ago a visitor, having told me how much she had enjoyed the service, said "you need to paint the cross." I said nothing - it wasn't appropriate for me to say that I disagreed with her and that I am happy to have a bare wooden cross at the front of the church.
One of my favourite hymns is the old rugged cross. It looks to the cross of Jesus – the cross on which he died to take the punishment for our sins. The cross which we see in most Christian churches. The cross which hangs behind me (or in this case behind Ruth Ziegler) when I preach each Sunday – it is quite rugged. It’s not polished or made of dressed timber – it’s old – distressed is the word I think they use for wood like this. It’s old, it’s not clean. It was in fact sitting in the bushes at the church for many years – not as a cross but as two pieces of wood.
It reminds me that Jesus did not die on a nice varnished or stained cross – but on an old rugged one – one that had the sweat and blood of many prisoners on it. Prisoners who deserved their fate – unlike him.
When I look at that cross it reminds me of Jesus’ death paying the price for my sins. And it reminds me that his death was not the end – death could not hold him – he rose again and because of that I will one day share his glory in heaven. I encourage you to take 3 mins to listen to it (the words are also below). As you listen to this hymn, I pray that it reminds you to be thankful for what he did for you, for what he did for those who have died in the faith and that if you have accepted, or accept in the future, the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers you – you will be reunited with them in heaven.
The Old Rugged Cross
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
O the old rugged cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary
In the old rugged cross stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where His glory forever I'll share
Blessings for a great week