Sunday, January 8, 2012

To Mark You As One Redeemed by Christ

A few days before Christmas, my wife and I made a last-minute decision to visit her family in Saint Louis. This was a reversal of a decision made months previous to NOT travel over the holidays (neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas) because of having a less-than-six-month-old baby and so that I'd be fully available to perform my liturgical duties at St. Peter's for the first five weeks or so of the new church year (Advent through Christmas / Epiphany). Anyway, we had communicated with Ali's folks over the internet (voice and video) a couple times before Christmas which caused our son Joshua to repeatedly ask (paraphrase) "Can we go visit Grandpa and Grandma in Saint Louis?"

As it turns out, our daughter is a very good traveler. She isn't fussy when she's awake and she sleeps well in the car (we did go down to Saint Louis a few months ago for a birthday party, so it wasn't Ruthie's first time traveling on the road back and forth between Wisconsin and Missouri). So two days after Christmas, we drove down to Saint Louis.

Photograph taken by their grandson James.
Rare is the trip to Saint Louis when I don't go and visit Dr. Nagel, and this trip was no exception, but usually A) it's just me, and B) I let them know ahead of time that I'll be in the area. But because this was a last-minute trip, neither turned out to be the case.

I think I've mentioned previously on this blog that visiting Dr. Nagel became a regular habit fairly late into my (short) seminary career.

I visited Dr. Nagel a few months ago (our first trip to St. Louis since Ruthie was born) but I didn't bring her along to visit with the Nagels, so it was just me on that visit. Betsy had seen pictures of Ruthie online, but neither of them had seen her in person. This time I wanted to make sure they could meet her, so I brought the whole family along (for a shorter than usual visit because young children have short attention spans, etc.).

One quick story about our visit: Children don't often come to convalescent homes, and the residents don't get to hold young children, especially when those residents are stroke victims. I made a point to hold Ruthie up near Dr. Nagel so that she was facing him and standing on his lap (and because I was holding her, I was bearing all of her weight) so that he could "hold" Ruthie, even though, as you can see in the photo, only his right hand is available because the left hand is restrained (so that it doesn't curl up on him). I was thinking that he could put his hand around her, give her a little hug or something...

But ever the pastor, Dr. Nagel's automatic instinct was to make the sign of the cross upon her forehead, saying, "Receive the sign of the holy cross... to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified."

Right out of the liturgy, right out of the Rite of Holy Baptism. It was beautiful.