The special crosses that I want to tell you about today are not pectoral (they are not worn around the neck) and they evaporate after a short time, but in a very real way they are the most lasting of all crosses.
At our Baptismal service we make the sign of a cross on the forehead of the newly baptized. The presider uses either Baptismal water or chrism. Chrism is holy oil, blessed by the Bishop for use at Baptisms and other occasions. In the service of Baptism, immediately following the Baptism itself, the presider makes the sign of the cross with water or oil on the candidate’s forehead and says, “I sign you with the sign of the cross, and mark you as Christ’s own for ever.”
Both the water and chrism soon evaporate but the lasting impression of the baptism remains, as the prayer states, “for ever.”
Every one of us has been marked as Christ’s own. Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, “I thank God that I baptized none of you…” (1 Cor. 1: 14). They had been having a dispute over whose Baptism was best because one had been baptized by Paul, another by Apollos, another by Cephas, yet another by Christ.
In Baptism we have been guaranteed the forgiveness of sins, for ever. We have been raised to the new life of grace, for ever. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, for ever.
Our spiritual and physical discipline for getting ready for Easter enables us to move foreword; forgiven and without sin; excited by God’s gift of grace; and raised to new live in God’s Holy Spirit. The crosses of water or oil quickly evaporate but are still able to remind us of God’s love. And with this mark we are able to proclaim on Easter morning and everyday that Christ is risen! Alleluia!