Like some ashes with your train ticket? How about with your hot chocolate? “Ashes To Go” is one way to participate in Ash Wednesday without even entering a church. Members of Oak Lawn United Methodist in Dallas decided to leave the confines of the church for the start of Lent -- the forty day period before Easter -- and give folks the telltale Ash Wednesday forehead treatment in some untraditional locations.
Lillian Lawson is standing next to the escalators at a downtown DART station greeting everyone who passes by. She’s a member of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, and is part of a team handing out fliers and applying ashes.
Azai Igaodaro stops on his way to work to get the tell-tale cross of ashes on his forehead.
"I’m not sure if there is a church around here so I might as well get it done now," he says.
The man who came up with the idea for “Ashes To Go” is Senior Pastor Frank Drenner. He’s posted at another downtown stakeout spot -- Zaguan Latin café.
“Churches struggle with how we reach people in our community who aren’t part of our church, Drenner says. "Ash Wednesday is a good way to do that because it is very portable."
So portable, some churches are offering ashes drive-through style. Of course, some Christians consider these modern twists on Ash Wednesday sacrilegious. Paster Drenner says some people argue you have to have a proper service with hymns and organs playing in the background, not salsa music or escalators squeaking.
"But I’m also aware that the world around me doesn’t operate as I do, and so If I can do anything that will touch someone, in this sense literally today, with a little bit of grace and love of god for them, that’s meaningful to people," he says.
So, while you’re out grabbing coffee or a DART ticket, don’t be surprised if someone offers you ashes as well.
*If you want to learn more about Lent, check out AmericanCatholic.org.*