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The Cross Of Iron

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore letting go of things in the past.

Preparation and materials

  • You might want to choose some soothing, meditative music to play quietly as a mood-enhancing background to this presentation.


 Display a photograph of the Cross of Iron as the students walk on to the stage.

Reader From the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (13:11–12, NRSV):

When I was a child, I spoke like a child  . . .  when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

Speaker 1 On a hill in Northern Spain, there's an old iron cross that is passed by many pilgrims who are travelling along the route known as the Camino.

Speaker 2 The Camino is an annual pilgrimage. People walk for hundreds of miles to get to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

Speaker 1 The Iron Cross – or Cruz de Hierro as it's called in Spanish – has a tradition attached to it. It's a place where people can leave things they no longer need.

Display a second photograph, showing the tokens people leave attached to or near the Iron Cross.

Speaker 2 People leave tokens to represent all kinds of things they want to leave behind here, so there are scraps of fabric, stones, hats  . . .

Speaker 1 Quite a few postcards and some photos . . .

Speaker 2 Various messages written on scraps of paper . . .

Speaker 1 These are things – or represent things – they no longer need in their lives.

Speaker 2 I notice no one has left a nice phone or a huge bar of chocolate! Funny that.

Speaker 1 What a pity. Why, though, do these people leave things here?

Speaker 2 It's quite a symbolic and meaningful act. What would you leave behind now if you had a chance to throw away things that you no longer need? Are you carrying things around with you that are holding you back? Have a good think about it.

Give the students time to think.


When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

Give the students time to think.

Speaker 1 Are you saying that, in order to develop and grow, there comes a time when you have to let go of some of the things that only belong in your past?

Speaker 2 We probably all have physical things that we don't need any more. Old clothes that don't fit us now. Maybe someone else could use them. As well as physical things, though, there are other things that we come to realize we should leave behind.

Speaker 1 For instance?

Speaker 2 For instance – what about regrets? Regrets for things we've done. Call it guilt, if you like. If you feel guilty because you lied to someone, isn't it better to admit the fault and start afresh without that guilt hanging around your neck?

Speaker 1 The same would be true of pinching something or not caring about something or not helping someone who really needed your help. We've all done things we're not particularly proud of. As we get older, we can see our mistakes more clearly and that clarity gives us the power to wipe the slate clean of anything we regret.

Speaker 2 God is there to help in that process. He invites us to come clean and start anew. As soon as you are old enough to realize that you made a mistake, then you are also big enough to get it sorted and out of the way.

Time for reflection


. . .  when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child,I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

Speaker 1 Another year has begun. During last year, I’m sure we all made mistakes from time to time. Because we're all another year older, we can see the value in leaving behind childish attitudes – unless you want to remain a child forever, that is. Do you?

Speaker 2 Let's spend a few moments thinking about that. Think about the stuff you're not prepared to do any more, because you've put away childish things.

After a few more moments, bring the presentation to a close.

Publication date: February 2015   (Vol.17 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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