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Ashes to Go ministry left its mark

Published March 07. 2014 12:41PM

The Rev. E. Ann Melot, pastor of Zion United Lutheran Church of Brodheadsville, calls Wednesday's first "Ashes to Go" ministry a "great success."

Drivers and passengers in more than 100 cars received drive-thru application of ashes in the sign of the cross on their foreheads without having to leave their cars.

"We had no idea what kind of response we would get for trying something a little out of the box, so we're very happy," Melot said.

They had 43 cars stop in the morning between 8-9 a.m., and the rest came through between 3:30-5:30 p.m.

In addition to the ashes, they handed out brochures that gave an explanation of why the church was doing "Ashes to Go," and what Lent and Ash Wednesday are and their importance to the Christian church. It also listed Zion's worship services, regular and Lenten. Melot said they ran out of brochures a few times and had to make more, which was a good problem to have.

"People appeared to be very thankful to us for providing this," Melot said.

Some of the comments Melot and assistant pastor Larry Lutz heard included how difficult it is to attend the regular evening Ash Wednesday service, work schedules, working two jobs and older folks who don't like going out at night when it's cold.

"One of our parishioners told us that someone at her workplace brought up the Ashes to Go because she had seen it on television," Melot said.

"It sparked a discussion about Ash Wednesday. So even if people didn't come to it, it got them talking about it and maybe thinking of their own faith journey."

There was a good mix of those who took advantage of Ashes to Go.

"There were a lot of single passengers, a lot of couples and families. People seemed genuinely thankful for the service," Melot said.

She said they haven't discussed continuing the unusual practice, but thinks it is very likely.

"We haven't talked about it but I would think we will probably do it again," she said.

For Christians, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The practice of placing ashes on the foreheads is a reminder of human mortality and a sign of mourning and repentance. The ashes are typically from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.

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