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Why the Red Cross symbol is so important to Sir Knights

By Rev Nigel Reid

Imperial Grand Chaplain

It seems to me that we are living in a visual age. Symbols are important.

The Covid-19 signage has symbols to help us follow important instructions.

Young people express their feelings with the use of emojis – those little symbols in a text message, for example, which are used to clearly define the feelings of the messenger.

Many of us would have been familiar with sitting around “the wireless” to listen to the news or special events but the radio and audio cassettes have been overtaken by society’s desire to see, to watch, not just listen – and to that end, we have symbols.

But the use of symbols is not new. Symbols were to become vital in the life of the early church. Early Christians used the sign of a fish and many believers still use that symbol today.

The fish symbol is based on a Greek acronym for the phrase Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour. It is believed that during the early days of the Church, Christians were often put to death for practising their faith, so they worshipped in secret places. A fish painted or etched on the outside door of a house let other Christians know that they would be safe and welcome inside.

From the foundation of the Royal Black Institution in 1797 we have seen the importance of symbols and emblems to help members grasp important truths and apply the Biblical lesson from them. At the very heart of the Royal Black Institution is the Red Cross. And as we look this week to Good Friday and Easter it is important to remember the message of the Cross. For when I consider the cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ died, I am reminded of a number of extremely important things.

The cross of Calvary reminds me that we all need help, that we are all sinners in need of a Saviour. But the Bible reminds us that help has been provided in 1st Peter 2:24: “He (Jesus) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

When I look at the Cross of Calvary I see hope that brings me great peace and a personal inner joy. As George Bennard writes in the hymn, The Old Rugged Cross: “In that 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.”

During the lockdown we have been forcibly reminded that life is extremely delicate and we need to consider what is essential for life.

I have personally found that having confessed in prayer to the Lord that I am a sinner, acknowledging that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, and by inviting the Lord Jesus Christ to be my own and personal Saviour, I can face the challenges of this life with an inner peace and contentment that the world cannot give.

I would love you to experience that in your life also. I would love you to live your live in the way George Bennard wrote in his hymn: “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.”

May you have a happy Easter and I pray that you will know the joy of trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.