When I was visiting the cathedral in Durham, England I stumbled upon a “Holding Cross”, similar to the one in the picture. The purpose of this wooden cross is to conform to the shape of your hand. It is a tool for prayer and I hold mine when contemplating sermons or in time of reflection. It helps me center and turn my mind to where it needs to be.
After staring and holding it for years I realized how easy they are to make with the right tools. Over the next couple Christmases and birthdays I have acquired those needed power tools and now enjoy making my own. My parents had a cedar tree, we use to climb on as a child, cut down and the wood was left in the backyard. I have taken some of this wood home now and sliced and diced it into holding crosses. The picture above shows two crosses I have made out of that tree. I use them as a ministry tool for people in desperate situations or in times of mourning.
I have found them to be really meaningful to the people that have received them. If I know of a person who is going through a hard time in my congregation we will pass the cross around during worship and have everyone pray over it. I then take it to the people in need and let them know we, their congregation, are with them and lifting them up.
They have been a tool for evangelism as well. A parishioner of mine lives in another city and her husband was dying from cancer. We prayed over a cross and I took it there to him and explained to him what we have done and how he could use it as a tool for prayer if he desired. At his funeral I found out that he passed away with that cross in his hand and his wife now holds it to be close to him and God.
I gave another one to my mom and sister. A co-worker of my mom is going through a really hard time dealing with cancer and does not have a church family to go through this with. My mom’s heart has been breaking for her and she asked if she could give her a cross. My sister recently ran a marathon with Team in Training, a group who raises money for lymphoma and leukemia research. She ran with ribbons pinned to the back of her shirt with the names of people she was running for who are suffering/suffered from these diseases. My mom’s co-worker was on one of those ribbons. During the marathon my sister’s feet started to really hurt and she was to the point that she was almost ready to give up. Then she remembered why she was running, reached back to feel the ribbons, said a prayer for each name, and finished the race. When my mom told her co-worker that story and then handed her the cross that she had prayed over, the woman’s eyes filled up with tears.
I usually have a bad taste in my mouth for evangelism. Only because the first image that pops into my head is a person on the street corner yelling as cars go by. But the most meaningful evangelism I have done is through these holding crosses. When I give them away it is the simple acknowledgment that a person is going through a hard time and they are not alone. I/We love them and God loves them.
It is so simple but has been so very powerful.