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Thursday, April 3, 2014

04022014 Wednesday of Lent 4

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Standing in front of the congregation on a weekly basis I look upon the faces of you the people of God.  During this time I watch how a lot of you act and react in worship.  Some who sit in the pew go through the motions, stand up and sit down at the proper time and follow along in the worship and songs.  Some not only sing the songs, they confess clearly their faith and model for others their love of God.  And still others, do something more special, intimate and a true confession of their faith, they make the sign of the cross.

For some in our midst that were raised in the Catholic church, it was taught to them and drilled into them from their CCD classes and the nuns, for others it was taught by their pastor and clearly expresses their faith.  Martin Luther in his catechism says, “In the morning, when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of X the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  AMEN.”  This simple invocation is a clear reminder of the simple truth that not only are you honoring God, you are also remembering and confessing the truth of what Jesus Christ did.

Consider if you will there are many ways to remember what making the sign of the cross means, but it simply is telling a story of Jesus Christ.  Making the sign of the cross begins with Jesus Christ in heaven, this is why you start at the head.  Jesus Christ came down from heaven or descended from heaven, entered into the world in a lowly manger and became truly human.  Then in our baptism Jesus Christ entered into our heart.  This is why the movement of the hand goes from right shoulder to left shoulder to denote and remember Jesus entering our heart in Holy Baptism.

Now if you notice or those who have seen Catholics make the sign of the cross, they go from left shoulder to right shoulder.  Honestly the direction matters not, making the sign of the cross is more about the heart of the person or the intent of the person than the way the action is made.  Simply making the sign of the cross is to remind us of what God has done in our lives and for us by His action of coming down from heaven and how in Holy Baptism, God enters our heart and changes us.  So the end point of our hand matters not, it is more important to remember the importance of what God has done and completed for us.  God in entering our heart in baptism reminds us and wants us to remember what He has done in this action.  And we can do this when we make the sign of the cross as our remembrance of His journey.  For the sign of the cross not only is to be used at the beginning of the day as Luther reminds us, but at the beginning of worship, and when we are blessed at the end of the service, when we receive the Lord’s Supper and even when we hear the Holy Gospel. 

The sign of the Cross is simply the reminder that God came into the world in order to save the world.  And through our baptism, we are not only offered life and salvation, but God offers us eternal life through the Gospel we hear and are baptized into.  And our making the sign of the cross is not only a reminder, but a remembrance of the grace God offers for us upon the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind.  For when Jesus Christ stretched out His arms and was nailed to the Cross, it was the complete fulfillment of salvation for all of mankind.  But especially for all of us gathered here at Emmanuel who remember our baptism and Jesus Christ descending to earth and entering our heart in baptism, when we make the sign of the Cross.  AMEN.

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