Hovingham Church Cross

Hovingham in North Yorkshire boasts a rather wonderful Saxon Church. I visited in October and was delighted with the obvious age of the masonry and the sympathetic rebuilding that was in parts evident. Inside, however, is a Norse cross with knotted strapwork which likely dates to the tenth century. A number of old churches have such items, usually hidden out of the way within side chapels or at the back to receive the tourists’ admiration. Here, however, it is part of the church, the worshipping fabric, proudly occupying the building’s focal point. A modern frame has been commissioned by which the cross can be held. Notwithstanding my protestant reservations about altars and crosses, I was delighted that the church’s past is accommodated in its present.

Ok, time for a disclaimer. Some churches are backward-looking, never quite limping out of the nineteenth century. Yet many churches and denominations today are ignorant of their pasts and bereft of their heritage. I am glad that a pre-Norman cross is still part of church life at Hovingham, just as I am pleased that we at Salem Chapel acknowledge our long and venerable spiritual ancestry. We must not become slaves to the past, but neither must we banish the wisdom and influence of yesteryear. We Christians have a glorious heritage; we are a part of a global, cosmic and ancient community of the redeemed: so let us act like it.

In our recent Bible Studies in Genesis, we read about Isaac who:

…dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Genesis 26:18