Lent: Time to ponder meaning of life

by W. Winston Skinner

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Dr. Harry Barrow preaches at First Baptist Church of Newnan on Tuesday, as Lee Chitwood pays close attention. 


With the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, several hundred Cowetans gathered to think about life, its meaning and the significance of Lent, Easter and the Resurrection.

Dr. Harry Barrow brought the message for the first Community Lenten Service for this year. The ecumenical gatherings have been held in the Newnan-Coweta area for several years.

Barrow talked about the theological underpinnings of Ash Wednesday, which was celebrated in numerous churches in the county — and across the world — yesterday. The community service at First Baptist did not include the imposition of ashes, a rite where the sign of the cross is made in a mixture of ash and oil on the foreheads of believers.

Ash Wednesday is “a reflection on our mortality and the brevity of life,” Barrow said. He referred to a meditation by famed preacher Fred Craddock on how life is “such a brief thing” and that people must ultimately decide what they want to do with the time that they have.

Barrow recalled the early years of his children’s lives — changing diapers, getting up at night, the youngsters “coming home with stomach bugs from preschool or nurseries and invariably giving them to Madeline and me.” While that seemed a time that would never end, Barrow’s children are now in their thirties.

His son has two children, and his daughter is expecting her first.

In view of the brevity of life, Lent — the 40 days of contemplation and sacrifice prior to Easter — offers an annual time to evaluate one’s life and set priorities. “Ash Wednesday is a time for taking an honest look at ourselves,” Barrow said.

An important question is “if our lives will have integrity and if everything we say and do will grow from that integrity,” he added.

Lent also is a time for hope. “As we approach the journey to the cross, we do not do so in despair,” observed Lee Chitwood, the minister of music at First Baptist.

“Even if you and I have messed up royally, it’s not too late,” Barrow said. During Lent, questions are pondered, including:

• What is life about after all?

• Why am I here?

• What do I like in my life, and what do I want — with God’s help — to change?

Lent “is a time when we make room for God in our lives,” Barrow said. He said it is important to invite God “into the living room of our lives — and not over in the hall closet.”

Dr. Jimmy Patterson, pastor at First Baptist, welcomed the approximately 550 people to the majestic downtown sanctuary.

Rick Price led the call to worship, and JoAn Kinrade delivered the benediction and blessing. Allen Sandlin and Chitwood read Scripture, and Dr. Joel Richardson led a prayer that concluded with the Lord’s Prayer.

Chitwood sang “Have You Been to Calvary?” and trumpeter Rodger Danes played “The Lord’s Prayer.” Cynthia Beard provided prelude and postlude music.

Price is pastor of Cornerstone United Methodist Church, and Kinrade is associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Newnan. Sandlin is rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Richardson is pastor of Central Baptist Church.



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