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Saturday, March 5

Reflection: An unexpected souvenir 

He humbled himself and became obedient unto death – even death on a cross. 

Philippians 2:8 

My most unexpected souvenir of our trip to the Holy Land is a small tattoo on my right wrist. As my shocked children would attest, I am probably one of the least likely candidates for a tattoo. Then one afternoon we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Chapel of St. Helena is under Golgotha —the stone on which Jesus was said to have been crucified. On the wall of the steps that lead down to the chapel are hundreds of crosses carved by medieval pilgrims. Each cross represents a long journey by someone who came to worship and remember.

Soon after that visit, I found myself seated across from Wassim Razzouk in a room in the old Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. As he inked a matching small cross on my wrist, he told stories of members of his family who had been tattooing crosses on pilgrims making the journey to Jerusalem for the last 700 years — the last 300 years in the room in which we were sitting. The tattoo was a rare spur-of-the-moment decision on my part, but I have never regretted it. Every morning in the shower, it reminds me to pray for Jerusalem, and to remember my baptism. And it reminds me that I am in a long line of the faithful who come to the cross to worship, and who go away changed.

My tattoo is a visible mark, but every one of us who is bap-tized is also marked with the cross of Christ forever. In the oil on our foreheads at baptism, in the ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday, with the crosses that we mark on our on hearts or heads as we worship we are reminded that the marks of our baptism are more permanent than even a tattoo. The God who claimed us in the cross on Calvary will never let us go.

Gracious God, never let us forget that we are marked with your cross forever. Help us to live lives that bear witness to the power of your saving love. Amen. 

Pastor Beth Kearney 

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