I wear a cross around my neck. I wear it underneath my shirt and most people will see no indication of the fact that I wear it unless they see the string at the back of my neck or a small wrinkle on the front of my shirt. The cross was carved out of amber by a Polish jewellery maker. A friend brought it back from his trip to Poland and gave it to me and I have worn it for the past ten or more years.

Amber, for those who don’t know, is fossilized tree resin and is quite hard and contains many inclusions. Bits of vegetation or insects are often trapped in the resin before it goes through its polymerization and fossilization process. In the picture (click on it for a larger image) you can see the inclusions and imperfections of the amber.

I like wearing this imperfect cross that is full of dirt and plants and other things. It reminds me of a few things. First, it reminds me that I am imperfect. I am not a shiny piece of gold without flaw. I am more like this amber in that if you could see through me you would see my sin, my darkness, and my flaws. This is at the heart of why we need the sacrificial death of Jesus that was accomplished on a cross.

Secondly, it reminds me that crosses are not the beautiful things that we often make them to be in our church buildings and in the jewellery worn around our necks. The cross on which Jesus died would not have been a perfect, symmetrical, cross of oak finished with stain and lacquer. It would have been rough, splintered, wood that had been picked up from a trash heap because it was not good enough wood to be used anywhere else. Who knows how many others might have died upon this cross before Jesus was hung upon it. The God-man, Jesus, was willing to be humiliated by a rough piece of wood that added further gouges to his already damaged body to show his love for all humanity. I wear the cross underneath my shirt and it reminds me every day that my interactions with those around me must reflect this sacrificial love to others.