The cross has been a symbol of the Christian faith for hundreds of years. Of course, the actual cross on which Jesus died was not an attractive piece of art like those we use in our sanctuaries today. It was made of rough, wooden planks on which Christ's hands and feet were nailed with large, iron spikes. It was the common form of execution for criminals in the Roman Empire of the first century, and it was not only a horribly painful way to die, but a most disgraceful one as well. Not until the second or third century - after Rome had ended the practice of crucifixion and everyone who had ever witnessed such horrors had long-since passed from the scene - did Christians begin to display the cross in their churches. Some of our crosses are "old, rugged" crosses like the real one. But some are made beautiful by artists in order to convey the beauty of Christ's willing sacrifice for our sin.