What does the Lutheran cross symbolize?

Answered by Robert Flynn

The Lutheran cross holds deep symbolic meaning for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and its members. It represents the core tenets of their Christian faith and serves as a powerful reminder of their beliefs.

At its essence, the Lutheran cross represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. It serves as a constant reminder of his love, grace, and redemption for humanity. This central event in Christian theology is at the heart of the Lutheran faith, and the cross serves as a powerful symbol of this foundational belief.

The design of the Lutheran cross also carries symbolic significance. The top sections of the cross, often referred to as the vertical beam, represent the arms of the church members reaching toward heaven. This imagery signifies the believers’ desire for a closer relationship with God and their aspiration to be in communion with the divine. It represents their longing for spiritual growth, seeking guidance, and finding solace in the presence of God.

On the other hand, the bottom section of the cross, known as the horizontal beam, symbolizes the arms reaching toward the earth. This aspect of the cross represents the outward expression of love and compassion towards others. It reflects the Lutheran belief in the importance of serving and caring for one’s neighbors, as instructed by Jesus in the New Testament. The horizontal beam represents the church’s commitment to social justice, community outreach, and acts of kindness towards all people.

The combination of the vertical and horizontal beams in the Lutheran cross represents the interconnectedness of faith and action. It signifies the belief that one’s relationship with God is intimately linked with their actions and interactions with others. The cross serves as a visual reminder to live out one’s faith in practical and tangible ways, both in worship and in everyday life.

For Lutherans, the cross is not merely a piece of jewelry or a decorative symbol. It is a sacred reminder of their Christian identity and the profound love of God. It serves as a source of inspiration, guidance, and encouragement as they navigate their spiritual journey.

In my personal experience, I have witnessed the powerful impact of the Lutheran cross on individuals and communities. I have seen how it can serve as a focal point during worship services, drawing people’s attention to the central message of Christ’s sacrifice. I have also observed how the symbolism of the cross can inspire individuals to live out their faith through acts of love, compassion, and service to others.

The Lutheran cross symbolizes the core values and beliefs of the ELCA and its members. It represents the sacrifice of Jesus, the believers’ longing for a closer relationship with God, and their commitment to love and serve others. It serves as a visual representation of the Lutheran faith and a constant reminder of the call to live out one’s beliefs in the world.