In a Sunday school class on baptism he led earlier this year, Roger Gench proposed a daily morning practice: before you even rinse your face, take some water and make a cross on your forehead, “…reminding yourself who you are, whose you are, and how you will carry yourself (cross bearing) in the world as a child of God, resisting and seeking the transformation of the death-tending politics of the world.” Imagine what a difference that would make in your day, Roger said to the class: to begin with the reassurance that you are God’s child.
You wouldn’t have known from watching me on zoom, but I shuddered just a little inside. Crosses are not my comfort icon. Starting the day with a “religious” assurance and putting a cross on myself - just a bit too ritualistic/creepy for me. As with some other of my uncertainties about faith: I wouldn’t say that out loud. I would just feel it.
But Roger’s good word to me was “imagine”. Imagine what a difference it would make in your day to be assured you are a child of God. I’m pretty good at imagining - but I didn’t have much of a clue on this scenario.
As you have “imagined” by now, I decided I could try it. I’m about two months in, and here is the difference it makes for me.
When I gently cross my forehead with water, it calms my groggy, anxious mind. It reminds me that as a child of God, I am the same guy who mumbled prayers the night before about being grateful and needing help - and that I believed in those enough to get some sleep. It reminds me that I have a church family who accepts and loves me. It reminds me that when the secular world fails me, when the future of my country feels nebulous, when the human race seems to be wearing out its welcome on planet Earth - I am held by my faith. And I’m going to say: it sometimes reminds me to be less snarky during the day.
I’m not going to tell you at 6:10 every morning I recall my own baptism. But in thinking about this blog post, I remembered family stories of being baptized by Sam McCammon - and calling out to his wife Jean who used to babysit me. I can’t remember the moment, but I know it stands for people of faith assuring me that I belong, that I am claimed and cared for.
Thank you, Roger, for the suggestion. Thank you for encouraging me to imagine.
From dust we came and to dust we will return. But we can stay moist in between.
- who serves on the Session, sings in the choir, and lately has been helping with our livestream efforts. He also manages the blog, where we hope to feature a reflection from church friends and family each week of Lent. If you would like to participate, please flag him down or email firstname.lastname@example.org .