BURNET — Sometimes, in our hurry-up lives, it’s difficult to take the time to stop by church on Ash Wednesday for the tradition of getting ashes placed on our foreheads.
But one Burnet church is taking the ashes to the street, or the courthouse square in this case, to help people reflect on Lent and the coming of Easter.
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is offering Ashes to Go on the Burnet courthouse square 11 a.m.-1 p.m. March 5. The Rev. Michael Long explained it’s a way to allow people the chance to take part in the Christian tradition who either never have or just didn’t get to the church. While Ashes to Go started in a Chicago-area church, Long said he did something similar when he was at a smaller parish in Aurora, Ill.
One of his parishioners was a student at a nearby school and wasn’t able to get to her church. So Long went to her.
“It was a chance for her to get the ashes even though she couldn’t get by the church,” he said.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent on the Christian calendar. One of the traditions includes clergy placing ashes on the forehead of believers. Long said this is a reminder of our own mortality.
“That puts us in the right perspective as we start Lent,” Long said. “It also serves as a reminder of God’s love and grace.”
Another tradition surrounding the Lenten season includes giving up something for the duration.
“I think when people give up something for Lent, it was to remind us that Jesus gave up everything for us,” Long said. “I think more and more people are taking something up during Lent. But it’s something like, ‘I’ll connect with a charity’ or ‘I’ll be more aware of the poor.'”
Even those who give something up like alcohol or chocolate, if they’ll take the money they would have spent and donate it to the poor or a charity, it’s something that makes difference.”
Lent is a six-week period leading up to Easter. During the Lenten period, Long said Christians study and read about God’s interaction with humanity.
“That intensifies during Holy Week where we reflect on the last days of Christ and what he endured,” he said. “And what he did was endure a terrible death.”
But Jesus death leads to his resurrection.
“Easter is the principal celebration of the Christian church,” Long added. “Jesus died and rose from the dead. It shows that God is the God of everything, and, though there are things we think are impossible, God can do.”
Whether Episcopal or not, Christian or not, Long said everyone is welcome during Ashes to Go on the courthouse square. And, if people are just curious or have questions about Ash Wednesday, Lent or other Christian topics, Long said he’d be glad to visit with them.
And if anyone is wondering how they’ll know Long from the other people on the square, he pointed out it wouldn’t be that difficult.