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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Theolog: Crossing your Protestant self

It was while I was at First Cov in OH that I took back making the sign of the cross. I started each day in front of the altar and made the sign of the cross to devote myself to God. It continued for me when I was at Trinity where I could go to the chapel each day to kneel, cross myself, pray and light a candle. I miss that and am thinking about making a home altar.

There was a time when I angry at the Roman Catholic Church and shunned all things that smacked of Catholicism. Seminary really helped me overcome that and reintroduce certain elements of the Catholic faith as part of my worship. Crossing myself was one of those.

For me it's an act of commitment. There's no magic in it. I don't make God happy because I do it. He won't bless me more because of it. I'm not more pious because of it. There's no liturgical rule that I'm following that says I must. But I do it -- after I take communion and often at the beginning of my day. It's an ancient way that I use as an act of devotion.

I admit that I am a little self conscious about it when I do it in church but for me it's a symbolic action that is a connection point with God. When I cross myself it is a way of consecrating my head, my heart and whole being to Christ again. It's an act of consecration -- a way of pronouncing the cross over me -- of saying that I am Christ's and subject to the cross.

When done publicly it is a pronouncement of faith and letting others know that of my faith and to whom I belong. I am not my own. Crossing oneself is an act of consecration but it is also an act of adoration, blessing and honor Christ.

I know. Some of you without Catholic backgrounds actually need instruction on how to do this. Using your right hand, take your index and middle finger say, "In the name of the Father" while touching the center of your forehead, and then say, "and of the Son" while touching near the base of your sternum, and then say, "and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." while touching first your left shoulder and then right. Unless of course you are Eastern Orthodox, in which case you would touch your right shoulder first.

I encourage you -- do it now and consecrate yourself to Christ again or for the first time.

A friend shared this post with his pastor wryly suggesting the pastor cross himself in church on Sunday in their conservative General Conference Baptist Church. Surprisingly, the pastor replied that is was part of his private devotional practice though he added an element: He also touches his lips as a reminder that the Christ and the cross needs to guard what comes out his mouth. I really like that. It also reminded me that sometimes I make a Sammy Sosa heart thump too as way to say, "I love you Lord." -- but that's probably weird for those with and without liturgical leanings.

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