Across the Pastor’s Desk: See crosses on Ash Wednesday

Published 9:09 am Friday, February 24, 2017

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Mark Boorsma

I draw crosses for a living, and my canvas is hundreds of foreheads. 

At every baptism, I draw a cross with olive oil and say, “Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” 

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At baptismal anniversaries I draw a cross with water and say, “Receive the sign of the cross, a sign of God’s endless love and mercy for you.” 

Mark Boorsma

Mark Boorsma

In many and various circumstances I draw crosses again with oil — praying for healing, for courage, for hope, for help. When somebody dies, I draw that cross one last time on the brow of the deceased.

Next week I will participate in the annual Christian cross-drawing extravaganza called Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday crosses are drawn with palm branch ash, with some olive oil added to help it stick. 

I will draw crosses while saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return,” echoing Genesis 3:19. 

The black ash makes all those cross-crowned foreheads visible with the holy signature they bear, and the sight is so breathtakingly beautiful. All those foreheads! All bearing the divine kiss of mercy!

I draw crosses for a living, but it’s not really me doing the drawing. The God who made, redeems and sanctifies all those glorious foreheads simply uses my hand and that sign to remind us we are loved forever with a love stronger than death.

Next Wednesday you could easily find those of us who draw crosses for a living, and it would be our great privilege to draw one on you.

Mark Boorsma is the pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.