Why should I cross myself?
Ask a Pastor
“Why do people make the sign of the cross?” — Megan Knibbe, Arlington, Wash.
Rosanne: I am in the habit of crossing myself in a worship service when the name of the Trinity is mentioned or during the Eucharistic meal. One morning at a chapel service here at the seminary in North Sumatra, I crossed myself as I usually do. After the service, one of the students asked me if I was Catholic. He could not imagine that I, as a Lutheran, would cross myself. I acknowledged that here in Indonesia it was probably only in the Roman Catholic Church that people made the sign of the cross. But I explained to him that the cross is central to our salvation. It is on the cross that God’s love redeemed and saved us. In our baptism, we are marked with the sign of the cross and claimed as God’s own forever through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Making the cross then is a remembrance of our baptism. It is a tactile reminder that even though there are other gods that could lay claim to our hearts and lives, we belong to Christ and Christ crucified.
Brian: People of different traditions may have different reasons for (and even different practices of) crossing themselves. Lutheran Christians do so at the advice of Martin Luther, who advised beginning and ending each day by crossing oneself, and by doing so at other times as a reminder that in Jesus’ death on the cross and our joining to that death through baptism we may be confident that we have been claimed by Christ and assured of salvation, forgiveness and eternal life.
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