In the evening, before you go to bed, make the sign of the cross and say: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (Luther's Small Catechism)
Built into the design of the Holy Families daily devotional resource, we will be using the sign of the cross and the name of the Triune God as the invocation for daily family prayer. Broken down into three distinct motions, this sign will also serve as the structure for these family prayers, giving children a repeatable memory device for each day's devotions.
Motion 1: From God to Us
The first motion in the cross represents the vertical dimension of faith, from God to us. Our Lord is a God who takes the initiative by coming into our lives through his Word. Lutherans affirm that in faith and worship, the primary direction of action is from God to us. The down-stroke of the cross is where our prayers begin, as God opens our hearts and minds to his Word, as the Spirit himself intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:26-27).
Motion 2: From Death to Life
Between the vertical and horizontal dimensions of our faith is the center in Jesus Christ, and his death and resurrection for our sake. This is the "tentatio" that Luther often spoke of (Latin for "struggle"), where our sinful self is put to death and we are daily raised to new life. Notice that you cannot make the sign of the cross without the connecting "J" that holds the vertical and horizontal dimension together. By centering our prayer in this motion from death to life, we live out calling of Jesus, that "repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name..." (Luke 24:47).
Motion 3: From Me to You
The horizontal dimension of the cross reminds us of how the fruit of our faith expresses itself in love for the neighbor. "What you have done for the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done it for me," Jesus says (Matthew 25:40). Crossing the center once again, we get to proclaim the grace and mercy of Christ to our own family members, as we commend them into the love and care of God.
As part of the Holy Families initiative Daily Encounter with the Word, this three-motion cross will serve as the structure for the daily prayer resources that will be provided on this page, helping families to make time in Scripture and Prayer a part of their daily routine.
Note: We are still some time away from the official introduction of the Holy Families devotional and study resources, to be released in the Spring of 2017. But we will continue to use this test site as a place to give you a peek into things to come!