The first lesson for this weekend, the one from Deuteronomy, exhorts us to remember the life-giving words of God's covenant. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand," Moses says to the people. "And fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." My commentaries don't speak specifically about the purpose of having God's words on our hands and on our foreheads, but in my imagination, God's words are on or in our hands, so they are near to us, reminders to us of who and whose we are, and how we are to live. I wonder about the forehead though: perhaps the words are on our forehead not for our sake, but for our neighbors's. Perhaps God's words are an emblem on our forehead because our very lives proclaim God's goodness, and help others know and remember God's steadfast love.
This week I did something very stupid, which I will not be specific about. Let's just say that when I look in the mirror, I see a minor but noticeable injury. (Let's also just say I kind of "hit the wall, literally.) Every time I look at myself, I think, "How could I have been so stupid?" It's not exactly an emblem on my forehead, but it might as well be. It proclaims my utter brokenness, my weaknesses, my tendency to beat myself up. Deep down in my pretty-good, pretty-normal childhood, I also learned how to be ashamed, how to diminish myself, how to consider anything less than perfect not good enough, how to be afraid. It's called human sin. Try as I might to hide my bruise, people will see some of that when they look at me. But I also hope they see something else, something deeper and stronger.
"Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever."
"You shall put these words of mine in your hearts and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead."