Ashes to go
For believers with tight schedules who still want to mark a significant day in the church year, a West Duluth church is offering drive-through Ash Wednesday services.
"It's an opportunity for us to say, 'Hey, if you're working a shift that you can't come Wednesday night or maybe you have little kids' ... to still have that experience of prayer and confession and receiving ashes," said the Rev. Liz Davis, pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 4831 Grand Ave.
A section of the church's parking lot will be marked off from 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. today. Drivers will park their cars and can choose whether to remain in the car or get out, Davis said.
"We'll have a brief prayer," she said. "We'll have a little card to talk about Ash Wednesday and another one with just a little prayer service so we can pray together. And we'll have a little time of confession and forgiveness and receive ashes."
Our Savior's will also host a traditional Ash Wednesday service, including Communion, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary, she said. Davis will preside at all three with help from lay ministers, particularly for the drive-through services.
"People are welcome to come to both," Davis said. "If they've never done this shorter prayer and ashes, they're welcome to come in the morning and then come again at night."
The drive-through service is new for Our Savior's, said Davis, who came to the church as its pastor in September. She previously had been involved in similar services in southern Wisconsin.
"We're really trying to work on reaching out to the community, and for us Ash Wednesday is a big day of both repentance and experiencing God's love for us," she said.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. It's seen by Christians as a time of prayer and repentance.
The imposition of ashes in the shape of a cross on the individual's forehead is a powerful symbol, Davis said.
"(It's) a sign of repentance and also a sign of God's love for us," she said. "No matter what we've done or haven't done or where our lives have led us, we always trust that God loves us."