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My favorite part of the service of Holy baptism is when we mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of the newly baptized person and speak these words: Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.  We say out loud what has always been true - that this person is a child of God.  We mark them with a reminder of that truth and proclaim for everyone to hear that no matter what else happens in their life - no matter what names they may take on or that may be put on them - this name will be their truest identity, forever.  

This past month we celebrated the baptismal birthdays for both of my children.  We watched their baptism videos, ate cupcakes, lit the candles from their baptism and once again I marked a cross on each of their foreheads and reminded them that they are named as a child of God.  I reminded them that God’s love for them is even greater than my love for them - which is hard to fathom.  Every year we celebrate the gift of this amazing reminder - this visible sign of God’s invisible grace.  My hope is that this yearly reminder will stay with them as they grow up and venture out into the world.  That these little celebrations will provide them with the deep knowledge that they are loved by God wherever they go and whatever they do.  

It is this amazing gift that we will be celebrating with 5 of our young people on May 7th as they stand up and affirm the promises made for them in their baptism.  Each of them was brought into this faith community by their families before they were old enough to understand what that meant.  And yet, God loved them, named them and claimed them as children of God.  They did absolutely nothing to deserve this gift.  They did absolutely nothing to earn the name “child of God,” but that is the name that has been given to them.  They have learned about God’s love for them through their participation in this community and through their Sunday school and confirmation classes and now they get the opportunity to choose for themselves to continue living into their baptismal identity.  As they work on writing their faith statements, I have reminded them that this is not the end of their journey.  It is simply one more step on a path that God walks with them every day of their life.  

As we celebrate and affirm the promises made in baptism for these young people, I hope that you are also reminded of the promises God makes to you and the undying love that God has for you.  Take a moment to mark a cross on your own forehead and remember who you are - a blessed and loved child of God.  No matter what else may be going on in your life right now, that continues to be true.  That is who you are - a child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ FOREVER.