In the Sixth century the Emperor Justin II presented to the Vatican a cross. It was made of gold and covered with precious stones. The value of it is beyond calculating. In the center was a splinter of wood. That splinter seems out of place in such a jeweled cross until you know that Justin believed it was a splinter of wood from the cross of Christ.

Today one suspects that Justin may have been the victim of a very good salesman. Certainly it would be fascinating if we had a splinter of wood from the cross. But if we did, it would not make Communion more sacred. It would not make sermons on the cross more effective. It would not make our worship more spiritual. It would not make our churches more holy. For it is not the cross itself that is at the heart of our religion. It is the Christ who died on the cross. And He promised that He would be present every time the cup of Communion is lifted in His honor, every time His sacrifice is spoken of in sermon or lesson, every time His followers meet in His name. We do have something from the cross of Christ. We have the presence of Christ Himself.