Just look around today and see how many signs there are in everyday life. It used to be the signs we ever saw were shop signs for their different trades, I forgot, I mean for people of a certain age all we ever saw were shop signs such as the red and white stripes for a barber. Now we have “Logos” and “emojis” which are far too complicated for me, but they certainly liven up communications and they also tell everyone a bit about the person using them. Just the same as a Signet Ring in the distant past left an impression on the base of a letter proved whom it had come from.
Throughout the ages Christians have devised “signs”, pictures or words which told the world, or other Christians, who they were and whom they followed. Each generation has had their own wave of popular images, I am sure you can think of so many. How about those who have a FISH on the back of their car. They are not people who keep an aquarium but displaying the symbol,” ICHTHYS”. This is taken from the ancient Greek and each letter has a meaning which can be translated to say, “Jesus Christ God’s Son is Saviour”.
Going back to early Christianity, this sign was easily understood and was a simple sign which only those in the know could interpret and was used extensively by Christians during the Persecution. They needed something that would not alert the authorities and it was easy to carve onto a tree or draw on a wall without any come back.
Roll on a few years to the third century and Christians are more settled we come across Clement of Alexandria. He was upset because Christian Businessmen used the same signs for their business as the rest of the world. This meant, for example, a Wine Shop would have a picture of Bacchus [Roman god of wine], while others would have dice, daggers, swords as their signs. He felt that this was all wrong and advised the Christians to change their signage to reflect their faith. A Dove descending from the sky showed a Christian who had been baptised. He also talked to the ship owners and pointed out the “Cross Shape” of the yard arm crossing the foremast and exhorted them to look to the Cross as a reminder of Christ always.
Now there are many “signs” of Christianity but the one sign Jesus gave us is found in the Gospel of John, where Jesus said,
“ And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” [John 13 v. 34-35]
That is the best sign of all, where we show the Love of God in our lives and in the Love we have for other people, in our caring attitude. We are the living signs of our Faith and as we walk through this life’s journey may we all walk with the Lord, following His command to Love one another as He Loves us.
LET US PRAY
We thank You for the Signs of Faith we encounter in the world.
The Empty Cross which symbolises the Death and Resurrection of Jesus,
We thank you for signs of Your Faithfulness and Constancy in the beauty of the earth around us.
We thank You for the Comfort of Your Love which enfolds us
The strength of Your Love which empowers us
The Companionship of the Holy Spirit who guides us
And the Great and Wonderful Words of Jesus who teaches us.
We ask all in His Name. AMEN
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