On Ash Wednesday, Grace Lutheran Church will once again be offering “Drive-through Ashes,” a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition. I will be located on the sidewalk in front of the church at 1202 S. Pioneer Drive from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. You can pull up and I will come to your car for a Prayer and Imposition of Ashes. We will also have a full service at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. All are welcome.

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.  Drive-through Ashes provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church or have never participated before.

I began my ministry of Ashes to Go, when I would take the Imposition of Ashes to my homebound congregants. One year on Ash Wednesday I was undergoing physical therapy, and the receptionist stated that she missed church on Ash Wednesday every year due to her work schedule and the distance to her church. I offered to get my ashes from the car after my appointment, and she was so thankful. I then realized that busy schedules truly get in the way of  important traditions of our faith.

I researched and found how other pastors were finding ways to bring these traditions out from behind church walls and into the places we need them every day. I am aware how busy life can get and am offering a quick and easy way to connect with this age-old tradition of remembrance of the beginning of the Lenten season. As people get busier and busier, we need the church in new and non-traditional ways. 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, to reach for their relationship with God, and I pray that Drive-through Ashes helps them feel that connection.

The Rev. Leslie Dunlap is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church


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