I just heard a brass band playing “The Old Rugged Cross,” and realized that this song is the best way to explain veneration to Evangelicals.
Nobody is offering sacrifices to the cross. Nobody is worshipping it. They’re expressing their thankfulness and allegiance to the cross – both as a physical object that God used in our salvation, and as a representation of the whole divine plan of reconciliation of God and Man.
“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown.”
That’s what veneration is.