This cross is made from pieces of a boat that was wrecked on 11 October, 2013 off the coast of Lampedusa. I went to visit it today inbetween meetings. I walked through the pricey blingy shop at the British Museum past countless artefacts and huge treasures and then stood and pondered this simple cross.
The experience was profound. The simplicity of the cross, crudely fashioned and the layers of boat paint made it look out of place.
Especially in the huge glass cabinet.
The cross is a painful reminder of the 311 Eritrean and Somali refugees who were drowned en route from Libya to Europe. Inhabitants of Lampedusa helped to save the lives of 155 others. After meeting some of the survivors who are Eritrean Christians in the church on Lampedusa, Mr Tuccio, the island’s carpenter, was moved by their plight but felt frustrated that he could not make a difference to their situation.
The best he could do was to use his skills as a carpenter to fashion each of them a cross. A symbol of being rescued from the sea and a sign of hope for the future.
This cross in the British museum stands witness to the kindness of the people of the small island of Lampedusa who have done what they can for the refugees and migrants who arrive on their shores.
I walked away from the cross with tears in my eyes. Moved by the plight of refugees and those who are fleeing war, persecution and poverty. But also moved by the deep impact of the cross. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. The gift of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross is a crude sign of hope and that this life on Earth is not it. Jesus has made a way for eternity.