Ash Wednesday: Community service begins Lent


Allan Sandlin, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, makes a cross on the forehead of Emily Wilbert at the Ash Wednesday service at Cornerstone United Methodist Church. Behind him, Rick Price, pastor of Cornerstone, also performs the imposition of ashes.

About 200 people gathered at Cornerstone United Methodist Church to observe the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
The first Community Lenten Service for the year was held at Cornerstone. Rick Price, Cornerstone’s pastor, and Allan Sandlin, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, used a mixture of ashes and oil to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of worshippers at the conclusion of the service. The imposition ashes – which reminds worshippers of their mortality – is an ancient tradition dating to the eight century or even earlier.
Dr. Harry Barrow, pastor of Newnan Presbyterian Church, brought the meditation for the midday service at Cornerstone. He said the ashen crosses are “a sign of our mortality and penitence.”
Barrow, drawing on the writings of Episcopal clergy John Claypoole and Barbara Brown Taylor, titled his meditation “There We Walk Together.”

He said Claypoole has written that 21st century Christians have to rethink their vocabulary, substituting “we” for “I” as they walk with others and to think of movement rather than standing still. It is important Barrow said, for God’s people to walk together and “not to be afraid of where God might lead us.”

Barrow also said an operative word is “no longer ‘here’ but ‘there,’ because God is calling us to move into the future.”

Barrow recalled Martin Luther’s statement: “Here I stand.” For Christians of today, Barrow postulated, the statement has become: “There we walk together.”

Human imperfections allow God’s light to come into our lives, and the need for being together as God’s people is greater than ever, “especially during these tough global times,” Barrow said. “With all the sin in our lives, there we continue to walk together.”

Jesus is willing and ready to unite his people “if we’re willing to join our hands and hearts and heads,” Barrow said. “Christ is here. We have nothing to fear as we walk together toward Calvary and then to the empty tomb.”

Price said Ash Wednesday is “a day of beginning for all of us” and “a time of preparation” as Easter approaches. “May we look to our repentance,” he said.

An offering was received for Coweta Samaritan Clinic at the community service. Price welcomed the interdenominational crowd and led attendees in prayer. Med Roach, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Newnan, and Joel Richardson, pastor of Central Baptist Church, led responsive readings.

Jimmy Patterson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Newnan, read from the Old Testament book of Joel, and Sandlin read a passage from II Corinthians. The Cornerstone chancel choir sang “Feed Me, Lord” accompanied by pianist Sue Brown and cellist Liz Shumake.

Lunch was served after the service in three rooms at Cornerstone. Meatless casseroles were available for those giving up meat for Lent.

Community Lenten Services will continue each Wednesday at noon until Easter. The location for the popular services, which have been held for several years, rotates among participating churches, and the message is always brought by a pastor from another church.

Dates, locations and preachers for the remaining Lenten services are: Feb. 20, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Price; Feb. 27, St. George Catholic Church, Richardson; March 6, First Baptist Church, Henry Atem of St. George Catholic Church; March 13, First United Methodist of Newnan, Patterson; March 20, Newnan Presbyterian Church, Sandlin; and March 27, Roach.

Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter, when Christians remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Other services were scheduled on Ash Wednesday at St. George Catholic Church, St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church of Newnan, Newnan Presbyterian Church, Central Baptist Church, Cornerstone United Methodist and Resurrection Lutheran Church. Services were also held at Word of God Lutheran Church in Peachtree City and at Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist in Lone Oak.

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