That the people of God are called upon to participate in processions with music and joy also is reflected in the Old Testament (as it is in Matthew 21:9 and Mark 11:9). The modern cross procession is also based on the Ark of the Covenant procession that took place in ancient Israel.

(I Chronicles 15:28-29) “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres. And as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating, and she despised him in her heart.”

So what does the carrying of the Ark of the Covenant really have to do with a modern cross procession? Well, there is a point of continuity here between the Old and New Testaments. Just as the Ark of the Covenant is the embodiment of God’s promise to save His people, so the cross of Christ is the symbol of God’s faithfulness to redeem His people — which, by the way, is retroactive to the Old Testament saints (II Corinthians 1:20).

Do I believe that all Christian churches should have a cross procession as part of their worship service? Well, not necessarily. It is of secondary importance. But at the same time, there is certainly nothing wrong with it, and in fact, a systematic, covenantal reading of the Scriptures provides good reason to include it in worship. It is a strong visual reminder of Christ’s accomplishment of salvation for His people, and His subsequent call to bring the message of the cross throughout the world.

A cross procession might for some people be reminiscent of Roman Catholicism, but as its roots go much further back to the Scriptures themselves, it would be unfair for someone who objects to that system to throw out the baby with the proverbial bathwater.

Thanks for bringing up this concern, as it spurred me to research the subject, and now I have a better understanding of the biblical basis of our liturgy.






Further study

The Regulative Principle of Worship, Derek W.H. Thomas

 The Biblical Way to Worship: A Presbyterian Appreciation of Liturgy, Peter Leithart

The Scriptural Regulative Principle of Worship, G.I. Williamson

“Lift High the Cross” recession at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fredonia, New York

Some Questions about the Regulative Principle, John M. Frame

The Donkey Who Carried a King, R.C. Sproul

Covenant theology, systematic theology