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Ashes to go


Jimmy Cochran Columnist

  I sincerely do not mean to be tacky about another church, but I saw the strangest thing back on Ash Wednesday. I was coming home from my sister's home in Dunwoody and had been seeing little signs on the roadside for a couple miles that said simply “Ashes Ahead.” When I got to a church driveway, there was a policeman directing traffic into one of the entrances where I saw the rather large sign with an arrow pointing to the right where there was a line of cars circling the parking lot and coming back to the exit. As I sat in the traffic, I noticed another sign proclaiming, “Ashes to Go. Today 1 - 5 pm.” Whaaat?  And then I saw two ministers on either side of the driveway applying ashes to the foreheads of occupants on both sides of the vehicles, giving a quick blessing and then the vehicles would exit. All in all, the whole process probably took 2 minutes at the most.

  After I got over the initial surprise (and humor) at the sight, I began to think…..and this is strictly my opinion. Ash Wednesday is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar. It begins a time of personal spiritual cleansing and restoration to God, but, somehow creating a fast-food service line of applying the ashes so that you can get back to your busy life seems wrong to me.

  We, as the church, are to create the standard of living for the world around us. You know, we are the salt, the light, the city on a hill. How can we do this if we are not willing to take an hour or so out of our week to observe a time with God? That’s where we get our filling and renewal to head back into the world. “Oh, I don’t have time for an hour service just for church today. I’ve got a meeting at 1 pm, groceries to buy, kids to pick up and a ballgame on TV, etc. etc. etc.”  “Gosh, this is going to be a pretty weekend, let’s get all our yard and house work done on Saturday and head to the lake for the day on Sunday.”

  Don’t ya think that we owe it to God to give Him our undivided attention and devotion for a time of study and worship? How can we create the standard for this world if we compromise ourselves and our devotion to God? We already have come to expect our worship services to be geared toward pure entertainment with videos, screaming guitars, mega-sub-woofers booming and fog machines. Before long, we will want to have “Communion to go” and we can get on the road to the golf course or the hunting land earlier on a Sunday morning. Or, how about beginning the much-discussed drive-in confessional booth named “Toot and Tell or Go to Hell” (in flashing lights, of course).

  It’s no secret that I’m a very traditional church kind of guy. I prefer hymns with piano and organ. I like to be in a traditional Sunday School class. I like the Doxology. I like calmness and order in a service. One thing of which I am sure is that we as Christians should not be adapting ourselves to the world so that our standards are compromised. We need to make the commitment to be faithful.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


  Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, author, musician and minister.



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