Before Christ, the cross was an instrument of the cruelest punishment, and a symbol of horror. After His sufferings, it became the sign of the victory of good over evil and of life over death; it became the reminder of the limitless love of God and a source of hope, joy, and peace.

Because of the significance of the cross to religion, The United Methodist Women chose to use this symbol in each window which adorns the Chapel of the Cross at the west end of Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church. 

The following provides a brief definition of some of the meanings associated with the crosses depicted in the stained glass windows in our Chapel (all crosses are numbered from left to right beginning with the outside entry door):

The cross adorning the outside canopy is a Greek Cross, an ancient cruciform with arms of equal length. The Greek cross is embedded in a circle which stands for eternity because it is endless, without beginning and without end. The combination of the two symbolizes the equality of God’s love for all mankind.

Alpha (A/a) and Omega (W/w) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. When they are used together, they have a similar meaning to our expression, “from A to Z.” They symbolize that Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and end of all things (Rev 22: 13, 1: 8, 21: 6). Since they are designed to show the eternalness of Christ, they would always be used in connection with a monogram or some other symbol that signifies Christ; otherwise their meaning would be simply two letters of the Greek alphabet. The cross in the center is one such symbol which refers to the fact that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13: 8).

Donated by the Rick Brammer family, to the glory of God

Sometimes called the Mariner’s Cross or the Cross of Hope, this cross combines an anchor and a cross which originated in the Roman catacombs. It is an ancient symbol for Jesus Christ and one of the oldest symbols of Christianity. The anchor originally was a symbol of hope but became the hope of salvation through the cross of Christ. Clement of Alexandria condemned the widespread use of symbols but gave his approval to use the “ship’s anchor” as a Christian seal. Thus it symbolizes salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection, and hope in the life eternal. Hebrews 6: 19 (“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”) probably caused this symbol to become popular.  This cross was also the emblem of St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, who, according to tradition, was tied to an anchor and tossed into the sea by the emperor Trajan.

Donated in loving memory of Betty Scherer

This cross is also known as the Lord’s Prayer Cross. Shaped like a star to symbolize the star which heralded the Birth of Christ, the natal cross reminds us of the story of Jesus’ birth and foretells the purpose for which he was born. It reminds us that God chose to leave heaven to become human and re-establish God’s relationship with humanity, a relationship severed in the Garden of Eden.

Donated by Roberta F. Fuller, in loving memory of her parents.

In Latin, it is named the Crux Commissa which means “joined” or “attached.” The Tau Cross is the simplest of all crosses. It resembles the Greek letter “T,” from which it receives its name. It is often called the Cross of Prophecy or the Old Testament Cross because it is the traditional sign that Israelites made with lamb’s blood on their doorposts in Egypt on the night of Passover. According to tradition, the pole on which Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness was a Tau Cross (Numbers 21: 4-9.) Some also believe that the two thieves crucified with Christ where hung on Tau Crosses. This cross is known as the Advent Cross or the Anticipatory Cross, because the absence of the upper arm symbolizes that God’s work is incomplete without Jesus Christ (Isaiah 7: 14). It is believed that St. Anthony and Matthew died on a Tau Cross and thus, it is also known as the Martyr’s Cross or St. Anthony’s Cross.

Donated in memory of Donald and Joan Yerkes, with love from their family and friends

This contemporary Cross of Nails symbolizes the three nails used to attach Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross. Nails are symbols of Christ’s Passion or Crucifixion because they were used to fasten Jesus to His holy cross. The use of these instruments of torture fulfilled the psalmist’s messianic prophecy “They pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22: 16). On early crucifixes, four nails were used to crucify Jesus. During the medieval period, this number was changed to three in honor of the Holy Trinity as symbols of the Passion. The nails of the cross left a physical mark on Jesus’ body while Christ’s love and sacrifice for mankind have left a spiritual mark for all Christianity.

Donated in honor of Earl and Ethel Penno by their family

This cross is also known as a Cross of Light, Easter Cross, Cross of Glory or Rayed Cross. It is a Latin Cross sending forth twelve or more rays of light, which gives it the appearance of a rising sun exploding with color and light from the cross. The sun is a symbol of new life and the rays represent Christ’s disciples taking the gospel (new life) into the world. The Radiant Cross is believed to extend miraculous powers of hope and healing to all who view it. Christians believe this cross is a sign of divine promise which heralds a great Spiritual presence and signifies the return of the Christ.

Donated in loving memory of Robert A. Shover by Virginia Shover and family

The Budded Cross received its name because each of its extensions are capped with what appears to be three tree buds. The tree buds symbolize the Trinity, as well as new growth—the growth that is brought about when we “put on” Christ. This cross is often used during the Easter/Lenten season as a reminder of the new life promised at our Resurrection.

Donated in loving memory of Evelyn S. Kurtz by all those who love her

Cross of Robes shows the most commonly used form of the cross, a simple Latin Cross, draped with the robe of Christ. In Christian symbolism the ‘Instruments of the Passion’ are the objects associated with the Crucifixion. Each of the Instruments has become an object of veneration among Christians. The robe depicted here symbolizes the robe worn by Christ during his crucifixion.

Donated in loving memory of Evelyn J. Abey by her family and friends

This cross is in the center of the bay window of the Chapel. The history and significance of the Cross and Flame emblem are as rich and diverse as The United Methodist Church. The insignia’s birth followed the union of two denominations in 1968: The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The cross is linked with a single flame from dual tongues of fire. The resulting insignia is rich in meaning. It relates The United Methodist church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw “tongues, as of fire” (Acts 2:3).
The elements of the emblem also remind us of a transforming moment in the life of Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, when he sensed God’s presence and felt his heart “strangely warmed.” The two tongues of a single flame may also be understood to represent the union of two denominations.
Donated in loving memory of Carol and Ed Davey

While Protestants call this the Celtic Cross, Catholics usually refer to it as the Irish Cross. It is believed to have been taken from Ireland to the Isles of Iona, in western Scotland by St. Columba in the sixth century. (The cross, in this form, is found throughout England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.) The Celtic Cross is essentially a traditional Latin Cross with a circle overlying the point where the lines meet. The circle symbolizes the eternal love of God and eternal effect of the redemption secured by the death of Christ on the cross. Sometimes the circle is filled in and symbols or pictures representing God’s faithfulness as portrayed in Bible stories which are carved in the stone ring. The circle can also symbolize a halo, which is used to represent the holiness of Christ and the divine judgment and forgiveness that resulted through Christ’s death on the cross.

Donated in loving memory of Carol and Ed Davey

Also known as the Triumphant Cross and Cross of Victory, this cross is a symbol of the office of the king and of our glorified Lord. It is often used in Christian art atop the scepter of Jesus as He reigns in glory. This cross consists of a small Latin cross resting upon a banded globe. For Christians, the Orbed Cross symbolizes the final triumph and reign of Christ over the world and the triumph of the Gospel throughout the earth. It is the cross of Pentecost and stands for the establishment of the church in the world (Acts 2), thus it is appropriate to use it in presenting world missions.

Donated in loving memory of Floy Sessions, Proverbs 3: 5-6

The Calvary Cross, also known as the Graded Cross or Three-Step Cross, it is a Latin cross with three steps at the base. The cross symbolizes redemption, with Christ raised from the dead and reigning from the throne in heaven. The three steps have two meanings. First, they represent Christ’s walk up the hill known as Calvary using only his faith, hope, and love, in order to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. They also represent faith, hope, and love. The lower step represents love, the broadest and greatest of the three theological virtues. The second step denotes hope, without which love avails little. The highest step is faith, which is placed next to the cross to express the fact that faith is a gift from God. This cross is based on 1 Corinthians 13: 13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It is the form of the cross usually found on the altar-table.

The Cross in Glory is a white Latin cross with Easter lilies twined about it, symbolizing our Risen Lord and Easter Day. The lily’s trumpet shape makes it a symbol of royalty. Its white color indicates purity, innocence, and virtue. It is an emblem of rebirth and eternal life and the three petals represent the Holy Trinity. Christ made the lily a symbol of what would be done for those who trust in divine providence when He said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith.” (Luke 12:27-28; Mt 6:28-29). Thus, they are sometimes called the “white-robed apostles of hope.” The Easter lily is a symbol of our hope in the resurrection. When the bulb is buried in the earth, out of it grows foliage and a new bulb. This symbolizes the gaining of immortal life by the death of the body. When coupled with the cross, this symbol points out that our eternal life is through Jesus Christ, who was the first to die and be resurrected to eternal life — thus, showing us the way.

The Chalice Cross. The Crux Acuta (Cross of Agony) symbolizes the agony of Christ in Gethsemane. The Passion Cross (the cross that symbolically represents Maundy Thursday or Good Friday) has its ends cut off to form points that remind us of the sharp reality that Christ was dealing with in the garden — the impending sufferings to be endured — betrayal, humiliation, torture and crucifixion. The chalice filled with blood refers to Luke 22: 44, which says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.”

Donated in loving memory of Pieter H. van Horne by his family

The Orthodox Cross is used primarily in Orthodox Churches and especially in the Russian Orthodox Church. The upper bar represents the sign Pilate had placed above Jesus’ head and often holds the inscription “INRI” (Latin initials for “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”–“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”) Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19.  The meaning of the slanted bar is lost in legend. One story holds that Jesus’ legs were of unequal length, another that the earthquake that came at His death caused the cross to tilt. Still another popular theory from the eleventh century, is that the slanted bottom beam represents a foot-rest. The slant symbolizes a balance scale showing the good thief having accepted Christ would ascend to heaven, while the thief who mocked Jesus would descend to hell. In this interpretation, Christ on the Cross represents the scales of justice. Another explanation (probably the correct one) is that the slanted bar forms St. Andrew’s cross. St. Andrew is believed to have introduced Christianity to Russia.

Donated by Virginia A. Downs, to the glory of God