You are marked, you know.
Soul-marked…by the love of God.
But that can be so hard to remember; given all the other marks we bear.
Marks of our own making. Marks of our unmaking.
Sin, brokenness, folly, regret.
They all, in their own ways, leave marks.
And with blemished hearts and smudged souls, we can forget who marked us first.
And perhaps the most sinister of all marks are the ones without fingerprints.
Tarnishes left with no one to blame.
Disease, trauma, depression, loss.
They too, smear our sensibilities and blur our perspectives.
What we need is a new mark.
Or perhaps an old one, re-traced.
Is it any wonder why the mark we make on Ash Wednesday is in the shape of a cross? It’s that mark, smudged upon head or hand, which clarifies and declares.
It reminds us who we are, whose we are, and where this whole journey is headed.
For many in the Baptist family, observing Ash Wednesday is a relatively new experience. As more and more Baptist congregations embrace the rhythms and seasons of the Liturgical calendar, there is a growing appreciation and practice of ancient disciplines and traditions that have enriched the Christian journey of millions, for centuries.
As early as the 4th Century, Christians began to anticipate the celebration of Easter with greater focus and readiness. The holy day of Our Lord’s resurrection seemed far too glorious a mystery to simply stumble into it. So followers of Jesus chose to deliberately enter into the season with a call to contemplation and confession and renewal. The season of Lent, as it is known, begins 46 days prior to Easter, providing the disciple 40 days of prayer and fasting, with breaks on each of the 6 Sundays. (The Lord’s day was considered too much of a celebration to fast, so they took breaks.) By the 9th and 10th centuries, as the practice and observance of Lent became more widespread, congregations would formalize the beginning of the season with a special service known as Ash Wednesday. In that service, the liturgy would focus on reminding Christians of our humanness, our mortality, our sin, and our great need for salvation. With that kind of focused attention, the believer would move deliberately to Easter with an ever-increasing hope and anticipation of Resurrection.
On Wednesday, March 5th 2014, Johns Creek Baptist will offer the opportunity to do the same. We will host an Ash Wednesday Service, beginning at 6:00 p.m.* in the Sanctuary. We will enter a time of reflection, prayer, confession and renewal, as we too anticipate with greater focus and readiness, the resurrection of the one who makes all things new.
*[Please note: While the service officially begins at 6:00 p.m., music by special guest and Jazz Saxophonist, Mike Tarpley will begin at 5:45 p.m. to help prepare minds and hearts for worship.]
Come and be reminded. Come and be marked.
Soul-marked…by the love of God.
Johns Creek Baptist Church
Thank you, Shaun, for instigating this service. I have always wanted to participate in an Ash Wednesday service as my many Catholic friends do. Unfortunately, I cannot be there because I am teaching at that time. But I wanted to applaud your decision.