A comment on my
recent rush-hour-communion post mentioned the Episcopal Church's recent practice of Ashes to Go, a form of "liturgical evangelism" that
has brought congregations out into streets, bus stations, train stations and
subway stations to dispense ashes on Ash Wednesday.
When I started
to read about Ashes to Go, I had many of the same questions that I brought to
early-morning communion. At first I thought, ashes to go? Whatever happened to
liturgy and community? Aren't we just feeding into our culture's unwillingness
to stop for anything at anytime? Can ashes really be offered like a fast food
item at a take out window?
But once again,
in the midst of these restless and protesting thoughts, another reality has
"Religious commitments are no longer taken for
granted as part of North American people's lives," says Scott Kershner of Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. "So space opens up to
ask very basic and interesting questions."
I've been trying to imagine how Jesus felt right after his baptism. The heavens were torn open, the Spirit of God alighted on him in the form of a dove, and that voice from heaven declared, "You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased."
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, said he is in conversation with Pope Francis, Coptic leader Pope Tawadros, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Orthodox church, about establishing a fixed date for Easter. Easter in the Western church is on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon following the spring equinox. It can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. The Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Easter at a later date. The Vatican approved a proposal for a fixed date in 1990, subject to agreement with other Christian churches and government, which has not yet been reached (BBC, January 15).