"Drive-thru ashes" and "damaging habits"

 From the Wisconsin State Journal:
Several Madison-area pastors will hit some of the city's busiest streets and intersections Wednesday to offer drive-thru ashes for the start of Lent.

Motorists need not exit their vehicles to get their foreheads smudged.

"Anywhere a car can pull over, I'll go right up to their window," said the Rev. Mike Tess, pastor of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Sun Prairie. He plans to be at Market Street Square, across from Sun Prairie City Hall, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent for Christians, a time of reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Marking one's forehead with ashes in the shape of the cross is an ancient tradition that signals a desire to turn away from damaging habits and start fresh, said the Rev. Paula Harris, pastor of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Madison.

"It reminds us of our humanity," she said. "The beautiful thing about it is that we can always start over and grow, although we are limited and need to depend on God for renewal."

She'll be at the intersection of Monona Drive, Buckeye Road and Lake Edge Boulevard near the border of Madison and Monona from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Taking the ashes to street corners does not diminish the ritual's sacredness, Harris said.

"Reverence is a matter of the heart. Lent is a time of rethinking what's going on in your life, and you can do that individually with God no matter where you are. You don't need a church building."
The origin is a group of church leaders cracking wise on Catholics:
St. Louis is a heavily Roman Catholic city. When I do a wedding, for example, no matter how many invitations I make during a service, Roman Catholics will not take communion from me.

[T]hose of us in the clergy Bible Study were wondering aloud why it was that Roman Catholics would not take communion from any of us, but they would take ashes on Ash Wednesday from those of us who offer Ash Wednesday services. We joked that we should offer “drive thru” ashes or something.
The first iteration of "Ashes to Go" was also aimed at the homosexual community.
We realized that offering a brief Ash Wednesday liturgy on the corner of the business district in our progressive neighborhood during the lunch hour might actually be a good opportunity for evangelism and pastoral care, especially since all of our congregations are open and affirming to LGBT people.
Ultimately, I much prefer Fr. Rick Heilman's "drive-thru confessional." He has frequently told not just his parishioners, but the entire Diocese of Madison that he's is always willing to hear confessions, describing his U-shaped driveway as a drive-thru confessional where you can leave your car running.


Kat said...

Yet another example of a sacramental being taken further from its roots. People seem to think of it as some kind of cool status symbol, like it's a mark you're in some sort of club. It is a status - "sinner in need of repentance" - but I don't think that's something you'd usually write home to mom about.

Anonymous said...

aren't Protestant pastors aware that it is a sin for Catholics to take "communion" in Protestant churches? I know that when I am at an ELCA or Episcopal wedding they say they are just trying to be "welcoming" and say that "EVERYONE" should take communion, but it seems rather insensitive because I presume they know beter. About as welcoming as prodding Orthodox Jews to come to a pig roast.

Anonymous said...

And the state journal has the gumption to use Msgr. Bartylla's image with their story

Kat said...

I didn't see Msgr. Bartylla online or in the print. Where is this?

Anonymous said...

It was on the online article as of Wednesday morning. They must have removed it. I had used it in a Facebook post, and now the picture is missing. So someone must have said something.