In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; (Ephesians 1:13, NRSV)
Four weeks ago, we were marked. We were marked with a gritty and grimy cross of ashes. It was not warm water poured over our heads to wash us of sin. It was not warmly scented oil marking us to remind us that we are sealed. We were marked with a cross of ashes to remind us that we are dust.
It is no coincidence that this marking was over where many of us were marked at baptism. It is no coincidence that this mark takes the form it does.
The cross! The cross is what seals us and locks us in. The cross is what marks us and sets us aside. The cross is what binds us to the Triune God.
The cross! The Cross: the device by which our Lord was executed. The Cross: the symbol and sign of our faith.
This Lent, don’t just Lift High the Cross. Also, take down the cross… take it off the mantle and off the necklace. Take it off the high shelf and wall. Take the cross down and remember that you too bear the cross. That you too have been marked by the cross… that the cross is not as simple as “that thing that God used to save me” but that the cross is something borne by all of us as we serve God in the real world.
Lord, help us take the cross down so that it can be dusted off and brought out into the real world. Amen!
~ Pastor John Sipf, St.. Peter’s Ev. Lutheran Church (rural Falls City) and St. Mark’s Ev. Lutheran Church (Verdon)