© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Candle
A candle calls to mind Jesus' words, "I am the Light of the World" (John 8:12). When two candles are placed on an altar, they represent Jesus' human and divine natures. Believers are also called to be the light of the world:

Matt. 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood(n) it. (NIV)


Candlestick (Seven-Branched)
The seven-branched candlestick, often called a "menorah," is used by Christians to represent the Holy Spirit and its seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and delight in the Lord.

Isa. 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (NIV)


Cedar (of Lebanon)
This symbolic tree of the Middle East is representative of Christ. The soaring height to which this tree can grow calls to mind the concepts of beauty and majesty. Perhaps because the cedar tree is an evergreen, or perhaps because it is long-lived, it has also come to be associated with eternal life. For this reason, one often finds cedars of Lebanon planted in cemeteries.

Ezek. 17:22 " 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. " 'I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' " (NIV)


Censer
A censer is a container for burnt incense used in worship. As a symbol, it represents the prayers of the faithful which drift upward like incense and present a pleasing aroma to God.

Ps. 141:2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (NIV)


Chalice
The chalice is a symbol of Holy Communion and the forgiveness of sin won by Christ's blood shed on the cross.

Matt. 26:27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the(n) covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (NIV)

Season: All, esp. communion Sundays


Chalice & Cross
The chalice with a cross rising from it is a symbol of our Lord's obedient suffering and the agony of his passion. The cross is a passion cross, the pointed ends of which remind us of suffering.

Matt. 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (NIV)

Season: Lent, especially Maundy Thursday and Good Friday


Chancel
See Cathedral Floor Plan.

Chi Rho
The Chi Rho is one of the most ancient "sacred monograms" of Christ. They were developed by early Christians as a secret sign of their faith. This monogram is composed of the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" (XPICTOC). The Chi Rho has many variations. Click here to see some of them.

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (NIV)

Season: All


Circle
The circle, because it has no beginning or end, is symbolic of eternity. It is used most often as a reference to God.

Circles (Entwined)
This figure, formed of three interwoven circles, is a symbol for the Trinity. The circles represent the eternal nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Entwined, they remind us that God is one, even though he reveals himself in three Persons.

Coat and Dice
A coat and dice are symbolic of Christ's Passion. They represent Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecy.

John 19:23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." (n) So this is what the soldiers did. (NIV)

Season: Holy Week


Coins
Coins are symbolic of human greed and avarice. Shown thirty in number, usually with a purse, they are representative of Judas' betrayal of Jesus.

Matt. 26:14 Then one of the Twelve - the one called Judas Iscariot - went to the chief priests 15 and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (NIV)

Season: Lent, Holy Week


Cornerstone
The cornerstone as a symbol for Christ has Old Testament roots in Isaiah's prophecy. The IHC and XP a abbreviations for "Jesus" and "Christ" in Greek.

Isa. 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. (NIV)

Eph. 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (NIV)


Crook
The shepherd's crook is a reminder of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. It may also be used as a symbol of King David or of the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus in the manger. A highly ornamented crook is called a "crosier" (French for "cross-bearer"), and is a symbol of ecclesiastical authority carried by a bishop or abbot.

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me &emdash; 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father &emdash;and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (NIV)


Cross
The cross is the chief sign of the Christian church. It is a reminder that Jesus Christ is the center of the Christian faith. In Roman Catholic churches, a figure of Jesus is displayed on the cross, reminding worshipers of His atoning sacrifice. In other churches the cross is shown empty as a reminder of Christ's Resurrection. The cross is also a reminder of our own sin and need of redemption. For the believer in Jesus Christ, who died that our sins might be forgiven, it provides the whole context for Christian worship.

Click here for all varieties of crosses.

1Cor. 2:1   When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (NIV)


Crown
The crown is a symbol of royal authority, and is often used for Christ, the King of Kings. It may also be used as a "crown of life," the eternal reward of the faithful. Three crowns may be used to represent the wise men from the East who came in search of the baby Jesus.

1Tim. 6:13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time &emdash;God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (NIV)

Rev. 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (NIV)

Season: Easter, Christ the King Sunday


Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns is a symbol of Jesus' Passion. It is sometimes combined with a cross to include His crucifixion. The crown of thorns reminds us of the soldiers' mockery of Christ and their ironic ascription of His place as King of the Jews.

Matt. 27:27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. (NIV)

Season: Lent, esp. Holy Week