"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lent Day 29 - Wednesday

Not meaning to be tacky about other churches, but I saw the strangest thing I’ve ever seen back on Ash Wednesday. I was coming home from my sister's home in Dunwoody and passed a large well known church on North Peachtree Road. I had been seeing little signs on the roadside for a couple miles that said simply “Ashes Ahead.” Hmmm. When I got to the church driveway, there was a policeman directing traffic into one of the entrances where I saw the rather large sign with an arrow pointing to the right where there was a line of cars circling the parking lot and coming back to the exit. As I sat in the traffic, I noticed another sign proclaiming, “Ashes to Go. Today 1 - 5 pm.” Whaaat?  And then I saw two ministers on either side of the driveway applying ashes to the foreheads of occupants on both sides of the vehicles, giving a quick blessing and then the vehicles would exit. All in all, the whole process probably took 2 minutes at the most.

After I got over the initial surprise (and humor) at the sight, I began to think…..and this is strictly my opinion. Ash Wednesday is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar. The services are meaningful and cause me to think and humble myself before God for the next 40 days and hopefully beyond. It begins a time of personal spiritual cleansing and restoration to God. I have observed Ash Wednesday and Lent for many years and believe it to be my favorite season. But, somehow creating a fast-food service line of applying the ashes so that you can get back to your busy life seems wrong to me.

We, as the church, are to create the standard of living for the world around us. You know, we are the salt, the light, the city on a hill. How can we do this if we are not willing to take an hour or so out of our week to observe a time with God? That’s where we get our filling and renewal to head back into the world. “Oh, I don’t have time for an hour service just for ashes today. I’ve got a meeting at 1 pm, groceries to buy, kids to pick up and a ballgame on TV, etc. etc. etc.” Don’t ya think that we owe it to God to give Him our undivided attention and devotion for a time? How can we create the standard for this world if we compromise ourselves and our devotion to God? We already have come to expect our worship services to be geared toward pure entertainment with videos, screaming guitars, mega-sub-woofers booming and fog machines. Before long, we will want to have “Communion to go” and we can get on the road to the lake earlier on a Sunday morning.

It’s no secret that I’m a very traditional church kind of guy. I prefer hymns with piano and organ. I like to be in a traditional Sunday School class. I like the Doxology. I like calmness and order in a service. In other words, I’m pretty much Baptist through and through….well, except for the whole Bar Church scene (don’t spend your time trying to figure me out….it’s not gonna happen). But, one thing of which I am sure is that we as Christians should not be adapting ourselves to the word so that our standards are compromised. If you don’t have time to go to a service, then don’t try for a quickie drive-thru blessing. You need to make the commitment. Kinda like the much-discussed drive-in confessional booth to be named “Toot and Tell or Go to Hell.” Some things just should not be messed with.

Today on this day of my journey, I will be trying to make the stand and not compromise for the sake of the world.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.


Post a Comment

<< Home