Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the traditional 40 days of Christian prayer and fasting leading to Easter Sunday. And the Christians at Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland are observing the day with our Christian brothers and sisters at First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and First Methodist.
Here at GCR, we are focusing on transformation and mission as the twin pillars of God’s will for his people. He wants to shape us more and more into his holy image and he wants us to share his love and grace with the world around us. Events like this combined worship service at First Methodist lean into both.
Ash Wednesday is an historically Christian practice; fasting and praying are foundational spiritual disciplines. Our Lord will meet us in these times to change us. Tonight’s service will be unsettling for most long-time Church of Christ’ers. The liturgy will be heavily scripted; nothing will be off the cuff. The prayers will be written, the Scriptures will be recited in unison, the songs will be ancient, and a pastor is going to put ashes on your forehead as an outward sign of repentance. This service moves us out of our comfort zones, it forces us to go to an uncomfortable place and submit to centuries-old Christian practices in a desire to grow closer to our Lord. Yes, God will meet you at First Methodist tonight. He will speak to you in a new way. He will show you something you’ve never seen before. He’ll bestow on you a gift you might not have received in any other setting. If you’ll give yourself to it in faith and trust, it will be a transformative experience.
This combined Ash Wednesday service with other Christians from other traditions also serves to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to our city. The truth of the Gospel is put on public display when Christians come together in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to worship. When we set aside our differences to worship in Christian fellowship and mutual love, the Lord’s will is done. We demonstrate the truth that Jesus died on the cross and was raised to eternal life in order to tear down all the barriers between us and God and between us and one another. He has broken down the walls that divide us. And when we come together in each other’s buildings, when we combine our worship teams and choirs, when we join hands in prayer and recite the ancient creeds, we are declaring that we belong to a Kingdom that is eternally bigger than our churches and that our King really is the Prince of Peace.
God is blessing us today with an opportunity not too many CofCs get to experience. It’s a grace from our Father to get a glimpse of his glory, to get a taste of his will with his people together tonight.