Big and rusty, it sits on a small kitchen space with other decorative items. Some have questioned its presence, as it isn’t particularly attractive.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, they say.

I was on the Atlantic coast of Canada beside an old lighthouse that is now just a tourist attraction. There in the sand, I found it. Huge compared to normal nails, it had probably been washed up by waves. In my eyes, it could be a hundred years old or more.

It spoke to me of history, of outlasting modern technology. I imagined that time-worn object holding together a historic structure such as the blockhouse in the same town, or as part of the old wharf that burned down and had to be rebuilt.

Its tip was blunt and not sharp, so one might call it a metal peg. For some reason, it reminded me of the Cross.

The nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet must have been gigantic, like this one. No nice slim “needles” that went in easily. Nasty, tearing apart flesh and tendons, with blood pouring forth.

I don’t mean to be gruesome, but it’s a fact.

One day I was leading the service at our little church, and I took my nail or peg as an object lesson before the Lord’s Supper. “Hold it as if it were piercing your hand. Think upon what it meant for our Lord’s hands to be pierced”. My brethren passed it around.

No one told me how they felt, but to me it was a strong reminder of the reality of what becoming human meant for the Messiah. It meant sharing our pain and bearing our sin and agony.

Not everything we possess or display is supposed to be pretty. Some objects are a piece of nostalgia: old letters, a crude drawing by a preschooler, a snapshot of a scrawny newborn. They often speak to us of love.

There are those who insist that Christians should not use the cross as a symbol, especially as a piece of jewelry. My husband once said, “If someone you loved had been murdered with a gun, would you wear a gun in their memory?” I respect that point of view, but it differs from mine.

Much as today’s crosses in churches or worn around neck tend to be smooth and attractive, they are nevertheless a reminder. In nations where it is a crime to be a Christian, the cross is a revolutionary statement. In China, crosses have been cast down from places of worship. For many, wearing a cross is a way of saying, “This is who I am. I am proud to be the object of my Savior’s love. I want to be identified as a believer. I want you to ask what that means to me.”

The “old rugged cross” has spoken to many across the ages.

Rusty nails can also bear a message.

Simple objects can be reminders.

Let us remember.