The Chrismons… The Anchor

18 So these are two things that don’t change, because it’s impossible for God to lie. He did this so that we, who have taken refuge in him, can be encouraged to grasp the hope that is lying in front of us.19 This hope, which is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being, enters the sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 That’s where Jesus went in advance and entered for us, since he became a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:19, Common English Bible).

The anchor has been a symbol of the Christian faith for just about as long as the existence of the faith. To sum up its meaning in a single word, “hope.”

The anchor was a key Christian symbol during the early church period during the period when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians. For the early church, the common symbol was not the cross but the anchor.

It was a common practice for early Christians to hide in the catacombs. Worship often took place there. If I am a Christian in the early church period, hiding and worshipping in the catacombs the anchor served to remind me that my hope is anchored in Jesus. Christians needed these reminders many times but none more notable than during the reign of Emperor Nero. In his time Christians were thrown to the lions, burned at the stake, beheaded, crucified, set on fire and otherwise tortured. The anchor served to encourage early Christians that Jesus was (and for us is) their anchor. The symbol encouraged the faithful to remain anchored to the faith and hope of Jesus Christ.

It is said that the use of the anchor came into being during the rule of Emperor Trajan during the first century A.D. The fourth pope, St. Clement to the Crimea. Once there Clement converted the people of his new home. Trajan was livid. He ordered that Clement be tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. As the story goes, the sea receded three miles to reveal the burial place of Clement. There Clement was buried by angels in a marble mausoleum. This legend, like many legends, is rooted far more in story than in fact. However, what is clear from it is the death of Clement hand a major impact on the faith and life of the early church.

Surprisingly, considering its believed power, the anchor faded from and had all but disappeared by the beginning of the fourth century. When Constantine became emperor and Christianity became the “official” religion of the empire, the cross replaced the anchor in common use.

In the early 1600s, the anchor re-emerged as a symbol for the Church. It remained in use, particularly as an engraved symbol for tombs. By the 1800s the symbol again all but disappeared.

Though not as common today, the anchor can once again be found in Christian use. The silversmith James Avery has used the symbol in his popular “Faith, Hope and Love” ring. Each word in the ring has an accompanying symbol. Faith has a cross, love has a heart and hope is the anchor.

As a former sea-going man, I am attracted to the anchor. When I see this symbol on the Chrismon tree, it reminds me that my hope (as well as my faith) is anchored in Jesus Christ my Lord.

Have a Great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved




Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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