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Ave Maria and Old Rugged Cross

My husband and I are quite different. He is from a large city on the East coast and I am from a small mountain town. He is a third generation Irish/Italian raised Roman Catholic. My Anglican and Native American ancestors precede the Revolutionary War. We have been married for 15 years and can appreciate and even laugh at our differences. Recently we found ourselves laughing at our differences in the middle of church.

Sunday, the Music Director spontaneously led the congregation to sing, “Old Rugged Cross.” Since this was not planned there were no words on the overhead screen. As I sang the familiar lyrics, “On a hill far away…” my husband leaned in and whispered “I bet you know all the words to this song.” I whispered back “Yeah, I do!” He whispers again, “If we were singing Ave Maria, I could sing it and you couldn’t” We both giggled. I continued to sing “Old Rugged Cross” while my beloved quietly sang “Ave Maria.” I bet all of heaven was laughing at us that day! Now when we have a difference of opinion I’ll say “That’s okay honey, because your “Ave Maria and I am Old Rugged Cross, but it works!”

I looked and saw a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne of God. (Revelation 7:9, NIV)

This verse reminds me of Spring break 2013. My husband was working in Northern Virginia for several weeks and the kids and I visited him. While he worked, we toured the sights of our nation’s capital. I recall eating ice cream on the grass of the National Mall in Washington D.C. I distinctly remember the three of us lying on the grass, feeling the warmth of the sun on our face. I asked the kids to close their eyes and listen to the different languages and dialects spoken all around us. We called out “Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, British, Arabic, etc.” I explained Heaven will be filled with people from all different cultures, nations, and languages. It will not matter where you lived, what you looked like, what language you spoke, or even what church you attended. I explained to the kids, all that matters is this: Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?

This morning I finished my quiet time listening to Luciano Pavarotti sing “Ave Maria” and Alan Jackson sing “Old Rugged Cross.”


“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

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