Ashes and a side of fries

This reminds me of the church that did baptism by fire hose one summer in Washington, DC. In that case, though, it was not United Methodist.

Drive-thru Ash Wednesday

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4 thoughts on “Ashes and a side of fries

  1. I have to say I feel rather ambivalent about this.

    I’m not sure how an action intended to be offered in worship by the community as community really translates well to a “drive through at your convenience between X and Y hours” approach.

    If one really cannot be bothered to be part of a community offering this sign of mortality and penitence, um, then is one actually in any position to receive it? Are people actually that squeamish about attending worship inside an established place where Christians gather to perform rites such as these that they only way they could possibly conceive of “being ashed” is to do it in their cars?

    Does this sort of thing end up sort of making the ashes into a kind of magic, and the pastor a kind of magician– or worse, a kind of vending machine, ready at your convenience?

    I’m trying, really trying, to find another angle here.

    Still coming up short.

  2. I heard today that the Episcopal church on the Circle in Indy is offering ashes to persons on the street. Don’t know if that report is accurate but if it is it strikes me as being similar.

    Is this how you tell others of Christ and his sacrifice? Come on…..isn’t there something wrong–I think that’s the correct word–about all of this? And shouldn’t we speak up when Christianity is demeaned?

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of your readers.

    • My wife is one of the priests involved in what’s happening at Monument Circle, I know she and the Cathedral mean nothing demeaning about this at all. I am sure that United Methodists doing the same thing are likewise not at all seeking to demean anything.

      Episcopalians do have a somewhat different slant on “holy things” that United Methodists do. So this practice may well be more of one piece with their theology, even if for some United Methodists (such as myself) it may feel a bit out of place.

      I think what is happening at the Circle may be similar to what is described in the article… except there is some kind of common liturgy that persons experience as they receive the ashes there. And they are not in cars. There is precious little place to park there! The Circle ashes are for are folks who are on foot.

      To be clear, Ash Wednesday is not specifically about Christ and his sacrifice. The “day of days” for that would be Good Friday. Ash Wednesday is much more about our recognition of our mortality and need for saving grace, as well as an inauguration of our Lenten journey of renewing our baptismal promises and walking alongside those who are making them for the first time or returning to the life of the Christian community after a long absence.

  3. My take — which may be wrong — is that the imposition of ashes is an act that only makes sense within a larger worship setting in which prayers are prayed, Scripture is read, confession is made, assurance is offered, and the community gathers together.

    These street-side activities might be some form of public outreach or witness, but I fear that they send the wrong message about the nature of worship and even the meaning of the ashes.

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