Why Ash Wednesday belongs out of the church and out on the street

Why Ash Wednesday belongs out of the church and out on the streets” by Episcopal priest Lauren Winner, from RNS.



  1. I think this makes great sense. If we claim to be an incarnational faith, then it is reasonable to take it to the streets. Moreover, it shares ecumenically with our evangelical brethren who are out there throughout the year calling for repentance.

    As Mother Winner pointed out how Christ died publicly, we also cannot forget how the first disciples, after they were anointed by the Holy Spirit, went out to the streets of Jerusalem and proclaimed publicly.

    In the end, it is about giving witness in some form or fashion.

  2. Yes, good idea, when receiving the ashes (in church or on a street corner) and then going forward wearing the ashes it is meant to be a public form of witness.

    But beware, I hope you have skin as thick as a dinosaur!

    You will get harrassed by skeptics, malcontents, you will be scorned or ignored and maybe some self appointed temple police will take it upon themselves to argue with you and tell you cannot be a real priest (even though they are in a different denomination).
    But remember your reward will be great in heaven!

  3. From the Office of Readings: Isaiah 58

    This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed;

    Almsgiving is the Lenten practice that should be taken to the streets.

    Perhaps churches could set up ministry booths in malls or other public places showing off opportunities for giving time, talent, and treasure as well as the relationship of almsgiving to prayer, fasting and signs of repentance such as receiving ashes. The event could last from Ash Wednesday through the first Sunday of Lent with an opportunity for receiving ashes anytime during that period. Something like getting your little flag sticker after voting!

    This might be a good opportunity for churches to connect with those people who only occasionally come to church, and enable them to become involved in churches serving others in ways that are attractive.

  4. Well it is nice to have the editing function back. Seems to work on the posts that have the ABC checks. I like clicking on the icon next to it which gives a wide space for putting in the comment and seeing it all at one time.

    When I Click on edit, I get a stack overflow error but clicking on OK allows me to edit as usual.

  5. I dunno if it’s fixed Jack. I posted early this am and nothing!

    If I remember correctly I commended Rev Lauren and stated that she had a good idea.
    Ashes received in Church or on the street is a public witness to repentence. In the early church sinners began their very public readmittance into the church on Ash Wednesday (in the West).
    However, I hope she has skin as thick as a dinosaur because she will need it. She will encounter skeptics, will be ignored or scorned and some temple police will take it upon themselves to argue w/ her that she is not a “real” priest even though they are from a different denomination.

    Regardless, the reward is great in heaven!

    (even Vice President Biden was mocked for wearing his ashes at a press conference a few years back).

  6. Rend your hearts and not your garments. I favor dropping the public anointing with ashes. Better to put them on your head yourself and not out where everyone can see you.

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