Over the last few years when COVID-19 was not a part of our lives, some congregations have distributed ashes on Ash Wednesday in public locations–outdoors at train stations and in parks, for example. On crowded city streets, you can see pastors and lay ministers in stoles and sometimes cassocks or albs (depending on the Christian franchise) offering passers-by the marking of their foreheads with ashes. Some offer to say a prayer with them.
It’s a public display of our faith and a reminder of the season of Lent. What do you think? How would you feel if someone you didn’t know asked you if you wanted ashes? Can this be a way of bringing Jesus out of the church building and into the communities where people live and work? Or is this the latest liturgical fad? What will you do this Lent to express your faith?
This is adapted from a blog post written by Kate Elliott that was published on the Women of the ELCA blog in 2013. Today is Ash Wednesday. The readings for the day are Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Isaiah 58:1-12 (alternate); Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.