Rustlings (February 12, 2018)

Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. Don’t let that unnerve you. Easter falls on April Fool’s Day this year. I’m still letting that one sink in. With the serendipitous mixing and meshing of holidays and holy days, I’m certain churches will find ways to creatively highlight and celebrate this Holy Season of Lent and Easter. We certainly will at First Baptist Greenville.

This Wednesday, February 14, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday and enter the holy season of Lent. Our midweek meal, mission and music activities will be held as scheduled… except… at 6:15pm we will all gather in the Sanctuary for the Service of the Imposition of Ashes. Much of the evening will be familiar. We will read scriptures of confession, pray prayers of confession, acknowledge in sermon and litany the finite nature of our existence and, of course, receive ashes on our hands or foreheads. One element/focus of the service will be different, however. You will not be encouraged to ‘give up’ something during this Lenten season. Traditionally, we spend these sacred days before Holy Week and Easter in the mode of self-discipline. We turn our gaze inward and struggle with some particular character defect in our lives. We ‘delete’ something from our lives in order to train and rein-in our drives and desires. Not this year. (I think I hear a corporate sigh of relief.) Rather than the typical self-focus of Lenten discipline – rather than deleting something from our lives, we will be ‘other focused’ this Lenten season and challenge ourselves to ‘add’ something to someone else’s life.

During our Ash Wednesday Service on February 14, you will be given a gift and challenged to share it with someone else. You will be challenged to use the gift to better the life of someone in need. You can do this anytime before Easter Sunday. Once you’ve ‘added a blessing’ to someone’s life, we want you to write about the experience on a provided index card. These will posted on the bulletin board outside my office. Our Lenten season will be a season of adding to the lives of others, not deleting things from our own lives.

This will be an Ash Wednesday like no other… and a Lenten Season like no other. Don’t miss it!

— Jim