This year, Ash Wednesday will land on Valentine’s Day (in anticipation of Easter landing on—yes, it’s true—April Fool’s Day). But a more profound calendar coincidence is the overlapping of Black History Month with the season of Lent. Lent is a time when we each pray that God will “create in me a clean heart” (Psalm 51:10). Lent is a time of reflection and repentance. Lent is a time to look inward, listen deeply, confess sincerely. And in 2018, it begins halfway through Black History Month. How will these currents flow together for you?

Highlights of Oakhurst’s celebration of Black History Month include special activities in Christian Education and in worship. (More information here.) I hope you will partake of it all! During the Sunday School hour, children through adults will experience age-appropriate curricula about the Freedom Schools.

Then in worship, we will welcome two very special guest preachers (I sure hope you got to hear John Barnes as our guest preacher on January 14—wow!): our own Rev. Sylvia Wilson, recently returned from Kenya, will preach on February 11, and then the Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle, our brand-new Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, will preach on February 18. Kicking off the month, the Conundrums African drumming ensemble (featuring Oakhurst member Safiyah Pankey) will be with us on February 4, and our Freedom Schools classes will create banners to share with the congregation on February 25.

And then there’s Lent. To begin the season, we will again gather at 7:00 PM on Ash Wednesday (February 14) for a brief worship service that will include the imposition of ashes. Lenten devotionals will be available for you to use at home. And each worship service will be designed to include times of silence as well as the convicting noise of our confessions being nailed to an old wooden cross.

Especially given the complicated times our world and nation are in the midst of, I am grateful to God for these rich and complex opportunities to begin our preparation for Easter. And I am grateful we will enter this time together in this beloved community.

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