Church Offers “Ashes to Go” for Start of Lent

"Nobody has called the cops on us yet," the canon said laughing

Too busy for church? Forgot it was Ash Wednesday?

Don’t worry.

St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral offered “Ashes to Go” on a Hillcrest street corner for busy Christians on this, the first day of Lent.

Christopher Harris, St Paul's Canon of Congregational Development, stood outside Pete's Coffee on University Avenue Wednesday morning with a plastic container of ashes.

One after another, locals walked up and asked Harris to bless them.

One woman snapped a picture before stepping up. Another man stopped his bike just long enough for the cross of ashes to be marked and a quick blessing. After a quick “thank you” he rode off with a friend.

Alexandra Howard and her daughter Zoe stopped to receive ashes. While Zoe looked a little unsure of what was going on, Howard wholeheartedly approved.

“I think people want to have spirituality brought into its day to day lives,” Howard said.

Harris agreed. With all the demands on our time, going to church may have fallen off the priority list in many homes.

However, he said Ash Wednesday and Lent have an emerging importance in today’s world.

“To be introspective in a busy world is a rare thing,” he said.

With five teams around the community, the church hoped to reach members of all faiths.

Harris said the response has been great. Some locals ran across the street asking about the “Ashes to Go” sandwich board sign. Others brought him coffee.

“We’ve had some people pull up and just lean out the window, you know, and just do it right there,” he said.

“Nobody has called the cops on us yet,” he said laughing.

The new program sends clergy and lay people to street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses.

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.

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