Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Epiphany 4
January 31, 2016
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13, NRSV)
I’m not really a “tatt” kinda guy. Don’t have any, don’t plan to have any. I’ve never been able to think of something I want printed on my arm … forever. It’s just not a practice that has grabbed my heart. But this little treasure was from Sam’s third birthday party on Friday night. For twenty-four hours this adornment on my forearm identified me as part of Team Tow-Mater of the Disney Cars franchise. It was my grandson’s choice for me. It worked. I’m a bit doofy and clunky like Mater. I channel his spirit as often as not. Good choice, Sam … you are wise beyond your three years.
And … it got me thinking about what marks me indelibly, since I live life sans tattoos. Well … I have a few incisions that serve as reminders of recent surgeries. I have a couple of scars from those falls that all kids get growing up. I’m told I have a distinctive gait when I walk, so maybe that counts as an “identifier” of sorts. But those feel rather ordinary. I wouldn’t say that they “mark” me in significant ways. So I considered a different train of thought – faith marks, so to speak. I was baptized on February 17, 1957. And although my hair is no longer wet from that rite of almost fifty-nine years ago, God promises me that there is an ongoing blessing that is an outgrowth of that sacrament of baptism. The Christian interpretation of a sacrament was defined iconically in the 5th century by St. Augustine when he said a sacrament was “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” Clearly a sign with which God intends to “mark” us.
I wonder what are the signs that define you? How are you indelibly marked? We all have a collection of events, relationships, passions … and probably losses and crises … that shape who we are. Sometimes those invisible marks are sacramentalized, in that they are related to visible signs that identify these invisible moments in life. Pictures … mementos … physiological changes … tattoos (for many) … maybe an actual geographic location you can visit. As you think about that collection of defining “marks” upon your life, spend some prayer time with God, exploring also those moments in your faith life that may have also shaped and defined who you are as a child of God. Baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals are the obvious choices. But maybe there have also been blessings or commissionings or distinct moments of prayer or meditation that have led to clarity in your life. Maybe God has touched your life in other unique ways that have changed you forever. Or in the language of our Ephesians prompt … maybe there are other places where the Holy Spirit “sealed” you? They are there … just open your eyes of faith.
Ever-living God, author of creation, we give you thanks for your gift of water that brings life and refreshes the earth. We bless and praise you, for by water and the Word we are cleansed from sin and receive everlasting life. Join us again this day to the saving death of Christ; renew in us the living fountain of your grace; and raise us with Christ Jesus to live in newness of life; for you are merciful, and you love your whole creation, and with all your creatures we give you glory, through your Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
~~ Baptismal Thanksgiving Prayer from ELW Morning Prayer