Posts Tagged ‘Ash Wednesday’

Getting “Ashes to Go” During Today’s Ride

For today’s bike ride I went out early instead of waiting for lunchtime.  It was unseasonable cold today.  And it was even colder because I went out early in the morning instead of waiting until mid-day.  But I intentionally went for an early ride so I could participate in “Ashes To Go.”

An outreach of The Church of The Epiphany, the same church that conducts the Street Church services I occasionally attend, Ashes to Go occurs annually on Ash Wednesday, which is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting, and repentance.  It falls on the first day of Lent, a period of 46 days of penitence directly preceeding Easter.  This is done in a symbolic imitation of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and battling with Satan in the desert, less the six Sundays during this period that are not considered part of the Lenten fast.  Ash Wednesday is observed by many Christians, including Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and some Baptists.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the imposition of repentance ashes, often prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations, in the shape of a cross on the foreheads of participants, or sprinkled on the crown of the recipient’s head.  As the ashes are imposed, the pastor states, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or the dictum  “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.” (“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”)

Since 2007 some members of major Christian Churches, including Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and Methodists, have participated in the Ashes to Go program, in which clergy go outside of their churches to public places, such as downtowns, sidewalks and train stations, even to people waiting in their cars for a stoplight to change, to distribute ashes to passersby.  An Anglican priest named Emily Mellott of Calvary Church in Lombard, Illinois, took up the idea and turned it into a movement, stating that the practice was also an act of evangelism.

As part of this movement, the Church of the Epiphany’s pastoral staff sets up in an area just outside the 13th Street exit of the Metro Center subway station (MAP), as well as on the steps of the church, to provide the ceremonial imposition of ashes to arriving commuters, believers whose schedules make it difficult to attend a scheduled service at the church, and anyone else who so desires to receive ashes as an external sign of repentance.  Again this year, this included me.  And although I can’t be certain, I think I was one of the few, if not the only participant riding a bike.

 

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