On the Sunday morning before Ash Wednesday, Pastor Nick invited the people of Broadus to join him outside after the service. As they gathered near the Peace Pole, he explained why we observe Ash Wednesday as he laid palm fronds from last year's Palm Sunday celebration into a fire pit. He then burned them down to ashes.
On Wednesday night, the people of Broadus and friends will gather again in the room across the hall from the sanctuary and observe Ash Wednesday together, ending the service with Pastor Nick marking their foreheads with a cross made of the palm frond ashes. As he does so, he will utter the words: "You are from dust, and to dust you will return."
This is one of the more somber days in the church calendar as it marks the beginning of a traditional season of fasting--Lent. As Baptists, many of us have not observed Lent before, and each year we do so is an opportunity to understand more deeply what this season means and how it can help prepare us for the crucifixion and resurrection we will celebrate at the end of these 40 days.
In this week's Pastor's Corner in The Beacon, Pastor Nick explained a bit about Lent and how we might participate. Here is an edited excerpt:
"Ash Wednesday is the traditional start in the Christian calendar for Lent. Lent is the time of year that we prepare ourselves for Easter. We in the church hope to take time to focus on God. There are many ways to do this. For example, this is a season of confession and repentance; a time to see where we have lost sight of God in our lives and recommit to the right path. Lent is also a season of fasting. In fasting, we give up something for a set time to allow for, and remind us, to spend more time with God. Finally, some see this as a season to take on a new holy habit; to pick up something in their lives that draws them closer to God. If you are like me, you might not have grown up with Lent being a part of your church life. Celebrating Lent is not essential to Christian faith, but as with every tradition we inherit, it is simply a practice that those before us have found helpful."
You are invited to join us for the Ash Wednesday service this Wednesday evening after our fellowship meal. The service will start around 6:15. It will be a time for reflection and considering what it means to be a people of the cross as we walk with Jesus through this Lenten season toward the celebration of the resurrection on Easter morning.
Our annual Soup/Dessert Cook-Off is one of those activities that has become a tradition at Broadus each winter. It’s not that we assume men don’t cook and bake all through the year, but on this night, we put them in the spotlight and allow them to shine. Males of all ages are invited to prepare soup and/or dessert and bring it to church on Sunday evening. The rest of us are able to enjoy their culinary offerings. And for fun, we ask women to be judges and pick their favorites.
Every once in a while, someone will say that maybe we don’t need to include this event on our calendar anymore, but then there are others who say this is one of their favorite events of the whole year. It means something to them beyond the food. For them, the tradition is invested with memories and meaning that add to its importance.
That’s the way it is with traditions in a church. You have to ask questions of them. Do they still have meaning? Do they need to be freshened up? Is there a simpler way to do something that doesn’t require as much preparation? In this case, we decided to carry on and just downscale our preparations, at least for this year.
There’s a second part to the evening, and that’s the program. At times the Arts Committee has staged elaborate themed productions, and they are fabulous and greatly enjoyed. And at other times, the program is more about highlighting the talents of our Broadus family. Children have performed magic tricks, tap danced, and shared with us their beginning efforts on an instrument. Adults have shared their talents too: singing, reciting, playing, telling jokes, etc. In recent years, we’ve had a pop-up art show where our artists are highlighted. As individuals share their talents, we learn something more about them and what is important to them.
Ultimately that is the goal of any of our fellowship events…to better get to know and appreciate each other. Why is that important? Because we all want to know that we matter. We want to have a name and not be known by where we sit on Sunday morning or physical descriptors. And as we connect to each other, we find unity in our diversity. We say an emphatic “no” to the divisiveness of our day. So, yes, the Soup/Dessert Cook-Off is a tradition, but it’s one with a holy purpose.
You haven’t missed this year’s Cook-Off! There’s still time to sign up. Men, you’re invited to bring a soup or dessert, but that is never a requirement. All are invited to join us on Sunday, February 23 at 5:30 PM. Call the church office to let us know you’re coming.
A version of this article from our Pastor originally appeared on January 15, 2020 in The Beacon, our weekly newsletter. If you would like to see what is going on around the church this week, you can view the latest copy of The Beacon here. Or, if you would like to receive The Beacon in your email inbox each week, you can contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My last year of trying to play Texas football, I was an undersized middle schooler. Unsurprisingly, tackling drills usually ended up with me planted firmly on the ground. As I lay there dazed, my coach would yell some variation of "Try harder!". I remember thinking I was trying really hard but that extra 8 inches of height and 50 pounds was a lot to overcome.
This week on Sunday we are looking at the Beatitudes to start a series on The Sermon on the Mount. This teaching of Jesus found in Matthew is revolutionary and beautiful.
It is also very challenging.
The Sermon on the Mount sets a high bar, and if you are like me, reading it might bring up that voice in your head that shouts, "TRY HARDER!" We can feel like we just don't measure up.
But I see this passage more as an invitation. Of course we should be challenged by the text, but we are not alone in following it. Jesus paints a picture of a way of living that comes through his help with the Holy Spirit. We do not just need to try harder, but instead with prayer ask for help.
Following this text is something that is learned over a lifetime, and we have God's help to do it. So, I hope you join me in learning from Jesus as we read the Sermon on the Mount in the coming weeks.
At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others.
Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.
At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between.
The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you.
If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to email@example.com or call (434) 977-7381.
Please visit our new YouTube channel to find all of the latest videos of sermons, Bible studies, and ways to stay connected while we are not gathering in-person.