The Lion, the Eagle, the Sun, and the Cross

The Lion, the Eagle, the Sun, and the Cross

A very old church stood in the downtown section of the city. People of all races, white, brown, black and yellow had moved into that neighborhood. These people were very poor and lived in old and untidy tenement houses. So many kinds of people living so closely together must learn to live together and be friendly.

The old grey stone church invited everyone and anyone to come to worship God. Italians, Germans, Negroes, Chinese, Japanese, English, Hungarians, Greeks, Americans, and many others, all sang the same hymns and prayed together. In Sunday school there was the same mixture of many kinds of boys and girls.

There was one class of four boys which was of special interest. One was a Negro, the second was a Japanese, the third a boy who had recently come from England, and the fourth was born in America. Usually these four boys got along very well, but sometimes they quarreled and then one or the other would say some sharp, biting words about the Negroes, Japanese, the English, or the Americans. The teacher told them again and again how necessary it is for all people to live together as friends.

For next Sunday's lesson the teacher asked each one to bring to class the symbol of the country where either they or their parents were born.

"What is a symbol?" asked the Japanese boy.

"Well, that is hard to explain," said the teacher. "Last Christmas we talked and sang about a star. Of what does that star remind you?"

"Of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born," quickly replied the English boy.

"Exactly," said the teacher, "the star is the symbol of Bethlehem. Next Sunday I would like to have you," as he pointed to the English boy, "tell me what the symbol of England is; and you," as he pointed to the American boy, "tell me what the symbol of the United States is; and you," as he pointed to the Negro boy, "tell me what the symbol of the Negro race is; and you," as he pointed to the Japanese boy, "tell me what the symbol of Japan is. You may ask your fathers and mothers to help you."

On the next Sunday all four boys were present.

"Did all of you look for the symbols?" asked the teacher.

"Yes," said the English boy, "the symbol of England is the lion. I think it is the finest and best symbol. The lion stands for strength and courage. He is the king of all the beasts."

"And what is the symbol of the United States?" asked the teacher.

"That is easy. I found it on our money. Look, there it is," said the American boy as he pointed to the eagle on a quarter dollar. "His wings are spread as if ready to fly. The eagle is the noblest of all birds. A lion can only crouch on the ground, but the eagle can rise up and up, and fly above all other beasts and birds. This symbol of the United States is the best of all."

"That is very good," said the teacher. "But what is the symbol of Japan?"

"Well, I looked up the word Japan," said the Japanese boy, "and the dictionary says that it means `The land of the rising sun.' And my father said that the rising sun is the symbol of Japan. Here is a picture of the rising sun. This is really a good symbol for Japan. Japan is the furthest to the East and since the sun rises in the East, it shines on Japan first. I think the sun is a better symbol than either the lion or the eagle."

"What symbol did you find?" asked the teacher of the Negro boy.

"The truth is, I could not find a symbol of the Negro race," he replied. "I asked my teacher in school and she did not know; I asked my mother and she did not know, then I asked my friends and none seemed to know. Finally, my mother said that she had heard the colored preacher speak of the cross as a symbol. She told me the cross was the symbol of the Negro people, and not only of the Negroes but of the English, Japanese, American and every Christian like us in the whole world. I have a little cross here. Look at it! It is the best symbol of all. Our Lord died on that cross. He loved us enough to die for us on that cross. You cannot get to heaven without that cross. The lion, the eagle, and the rising sun may be all right but they are not good enough; not good enough for everyone. The cross is for everybody. That is my symbol. After all, we want to get to heaven, don't we? We cannot get there without Jesus, who died on that cross. The cross is the symbol of God's heaven."

When the Negro boy was finished, the teacher asked the other three which of the four symbols they thought was the best. They all agreed that the cross of Christ was the highest and best symbol of all.

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