The cross is the most basic, central, and ancient sign of the work of salvation by Jesus Christ. Therefore, from the earliest days of Christianity the sign of the cross has been used as a symbol marking someone or something as belonging to Christ. It was once used among persecuted Christians to identify themselves to each other. Now it is a public announcement declaring Christ’s ownership of us and our allegiance to Him.
The sign of the cross is made for the first time on a person when he or she is baptized by the minster on his or her forehead. This symbolic gesture is to remind the person that the only way to God is through the cross; that is, faith in the finished work of Christ for payment of sin.
Since the reciting of the Creeds (Apostles’ and Nicene) are a rehearsing of our baptismal commitments, the sign of the cross is made at the end of the creed in the same way it the same way it was first received at baptism as part of the covenant renewal process. It is also appropriate to sign oneself at the absolution of sins as a gesture of receiving the forgiveness offered by Christ to all those who truly repent and at the final blessing as a sign of receiving this blessing. We also make the sign of the cross on the forehead, the lips, and the center of the chest at the introduction of the Gospel Lesson during the Eucharist as a prayer that the Gospel with be in our minds, on our lips, and in hearts.