Ashes To Go

For centuries, Christians have marked the start of the holy season of Lent by receiving ashen crosses smudged on their foreheads with a palm leaf. This cross of ashes serves as a reminder of mortal failings and as an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness.

This tradition might strike people in a couple ways. For those who grew up in a church that practiced this, perhaps the tradition can seem ritualistic and trivial. Or, on the other hand, to the unchurched or to those whose church of origin did not practice this tradition, it might just seem downright odd to see a bunch of people walking around on a day in late winter with crosses smudged on their foreheads.

At Ginghamsburg Church, we have been trying to overcome both perceptions. By offering “Ashes to Go” in downtown Dayton, we hope to imbue the centuries-old tradition with new life and to help make sense of it for those unfamiliar with the practice and its meaning.

On Ash Wednesday, March 1st, we will take part in a movement of clergy and lay people who are visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses across the country to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes.

“Ashes to Go” is about bringing spirit, belief, and a sense of belonging out from behind church walls, and into the places where we go every day. By going where the people are, we can provide the opportunity to participate in this tradition to people who have lost their connection to a church or who have never participated before. The ashes invite their wearers into a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

As people’s lives get busier, the church needs to show up in new ways. People need the church for reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of their working lives. Those who accept ashes on the street are often longing to make a connection between their faith and the forces of daily life, and “Ashes to Go” helps them feel that connection.

Ashes to Go will take place at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., March 1st. In addition to offering ashes and prayers, the church is offering blessing bags filled with useful items for the homeless.

If you are local, we invite you to gather with friends, family, and life group members to donate warm wool socks, waterproof gloves, band-aids, deodorant, chapstick, wet wipes, beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, dried fruit, snack cups, mints, water, and gallon-size Ziplock bags. All donations can be dropped off

at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. Co. Rd. 25A, Tipp City, by Friday, February 24. If you would like to make monetary donations or get involved, please contact me at rpicardo@ginghamsburg.org or 937.667.1069.

What I learned About Ashes To Go

Today, Christians around the world are celebrating the ancient tradition of Ash Wednesday. As a pastor, I have had the opportunity to participate in many of these services, but today was a first, we took the service to the streets and did “Ashes To Go.” For more about what “Ashes To Go” is check out my last blog post (http://rosariopicardo.com/outreach/ashes-to-go/)

As I found myself in downtown Dayton on a cold, snowy and windy day, I learned a few things:Ashes to go

  • Some people that work and live downtown who would not be able to make it to a church service appreciate receiving ashes.

 

  • Many people asked me what we were doing. They had never heard of Ash Wednesday, so it was a teaching moment in many cases.

 

  • It’s easy to freeze when you are outside in February for multiple hours! I was lucky there was CVS were I could buy some hand warmers.

 

  • Finally, there are others eager to spread Christ’s message of hope, love and forgiveness. I was grateful to have other passionate brothers and sisters willing to share prayer, ashes, hugs, and a warm lunch.

 

Don’t be afraid to risk and try something new to reach others for Christ.

Check out the news story: Ashes To Go News Story

Ashes To Go

This year my church and I are taking a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition known as Ash Wednesday by offering “Ashes to Go.” We are joining a nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal.easel

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, which is a time of preparation with reflection and self-denial for Easter. As a centuries old tradition, Christ-followers have received a cross of ashes from palm leaves on the face at the beginning of The Lenten season as a reminder that we are all mortals in need of God’s grace. “Ashes to Go” provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.

“Ashes to Go” is about bringing spirit, past a physical church building, and into the places where we go every day.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, and “Ashes to Go” helps them feel that connection.”

In addition to offering ashes and prayers, we are also offering free food from a local food truck vendor, which will be on location at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton from 11am-1:30pm.