Today is Ash Wednesday, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will be offering “Ashes to Go,” for the second year in a row. Ashes to Go is a nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal.
In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on the face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. Ashes to Go provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, have never participated before, or for those who might be too busy to attend a weekday service.
We hope to invite our local community to journey toward Easter (March 31, 2013) in a mindful way, by offering prayers for people who cannot make it to church on Wednesday. The ritual’s reminder that we are the creatures, not the Creator, helps us recognize grace in our lives and the lives of others
“Ashes to Go is about bringing the important traditions of our faith out from behind church walls and into the places we need them every day,” says the Rev. Emily Mellott, who maintains the website AshesToGo.org with resources and stories about this ministry. “We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives. The people who accept ashes on the street are often people longing to make a connection between their faith and the forces of daily life, and Ashes to Go helps them feel that connection.”