Children of God

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The soil was cold. It clung to your skin as you moved your hand around in dirt. As we poured the soil into each pan, pans that later that evening people would use to write their confessions, I thought of how Ash Wednesday strikes at our beings, perfectly flawed and in desperate need of God’s love.

Our Ash Wednesday service is one of my favorites here at First Baptist. It not only connects us to Christian traditions outside of our own, but it is a day where we remember our brokenness, that part of us that we try to keep so hidden from the world. Yet it is this brokenness that binds us to one another. We are all made in the image of God, as children of God, but it is our brokenness that truly makes us family. It is what we share, and it is what makes God’s unfailing love for us too immeasurable for words to fully describe. Ash Wednesday reminds us to love one another even in the midst of this common element of humanity.

Part of our mission at First Baptist is to Live The Journey Together. In order to live together, we must be together. Our children’s ministry teamed up with the youth ministry as we journeyed through this Ash Wednesday service. Each youth took one child and led him or her through the service. Both youth and child took turns placing the ash on each other’s foreheads, and offering the bread and the grape juice in Holy Communion. They sat together, sharing in the acts of confession, prayer, scripture reading, and commitment. Words cannot describe how beautiful a picture it was to see youth and children, hand in hand, as they approached the Lord in spirit, preparing themselves for the season of Lent. It was truly a remarkable and moving moment for Rich and I as the ministers to the youngest of our church family.

My hope for each of us as we continue in this season of Lent, is to not forget the brokenness in which we all share. A brokenness that without the love of God would surely be unbearable for us. We are called to love one another, to see each other as we really are and to still love. For “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loves us.” 1 John 4:16b-19, NRSV