A New Processional Cross

I was recently asked to make a new cross for the Sanctuary at our church. I was told it should be able to stand as a focal point in worship as well as be carried in procession on special occasions. The church interior is clad at the front with cherry veneers and furniture. The cross should stand out in that setting and yet be compatible with this color scheme.

It was first used at a memorial service for our friend and neighbor, Joe Boone, who died after a long illness. It was then received in procession at our regular worship the next day.

side view of wood cross made by William Everett

In making it, I returned to the design I had used ten years ago in the processional cross at Andover Newton Theological School. I extended the rays of the cross to a span of 22 inches. I then added vertical and horizontal laminates of holly to each “ray” emanating from the disc at the center. This highlighted the arms of the cross, but it also presented a small cross to every line of sight.

The Andover Newton cross utilizes a maple sapling from our woods that had been shaped into a serpentine form by an encircling vine. This gave a more primitive angularity to the cross, reminding worshippers of the serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness to heal the people (Numbers 21:8-9). This image was then used to interpret Jesus’s crucifixion in John 3:14.

In this instance, in order to make the cross more compatible with the church’s décor (and to sidestep the difficult search for a natural sapling shaped into a serpentine form!), I simply cut a walnut piece into an octagonal staff.

With this design I wanted to honor the historic themes of self-sacrifice and atonement while at the same time lifting up the imagery of a dawning new sun of light and healing. This imagery understands atonement as a moment in healing, reconciliation and new creativity. I hope that it will enable worshippers to open up new lines of understanding in their own lives.

Here is what I wrote in presenting it recently to the church:

In making the standing/processional cross I thought of the maple disc at its center as a sunburst of energy, a circle of light. In its center is a circle of purpleheart reminding us of the self-giving sacrifice at the heart of God’s love. The walnut arms radiating out from this core bear a light of healing in the holly laminate that forms a cross reaching out to the world in all directions. The walnut and maple came from the forests around us. The holly is from Georgia and the purpleheart from Latin America.

4 thoughts on “A New Processional Cross”

  1. I am gratified that the cross arouses reflections on both Luther and on Teilhard! Chuck Dayton, another one of our readers, has written this to me about the cross: “Bill, what a lovely work. For me it triggers two concepts: the Irish cross and Tielhard’s Omega point. J.Phillip Newell in Christ of the Celts says “In the Celtic tradition, Christ is viewed as coming from the very heart of God and thus as disclosing to us what is at the heart of God’s being. Its high standing crosses speak of the twin love of Christ and creation. They speak also of the devotion to the two texts, the big book and the little book. The artwork includes both scripture imagery and creation imagery.”

  2. Beautiful design und beautiful thoughts, dear Bill. This reminds me of the Luther Rose and its theological significance. Since you worked for the Lutheran world Federation in the 70s and this is the 500th year of the beginning of the Reformation, you and your readers may want to read the parallel (and see the rose in the internet). trhere I found the following:
    “For Martin Luther the rose was much more than an emblem or a signature. The reformer himself saw it as “hallmark” of his theology.

    In a letter dated 8th of July 1530 and which has become famous, he described the design of the Luther rose: „There is first to be a cross, black in a heart, which should be of its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves me. For if one believes from the heart he will be justified. Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. For this reason the rose has to be white and not red, because white the colour of the spirits and angels. The rose is to be in a sky blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

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