As part of the nationwide Ashes to Go movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by for Ash Wednesday, ashes will be offered at over 25 locations around the state of New Jersey this Wednesday.
Ashes will be distributed at 25 locations this Wednesday, March 1, including the Trenton Transit Center and Hinds Plaza next to the Princeton Public Library.
“Ashes to Go is about bringing the important traditions of our faith out from behind church walls and into the places we need them every day,” said the Rev. Emily Mellott, a founder of the movement and priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Moorestown. “As people get busier, we need the church in new and non-traditional ways. We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives. The people who accept ashes on the street are often people longing to make a connection between their faith and the forces of daily life, and Ashes to Go helps them feel that connection.”
In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on the face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness.
“Ashes to Go presents a great opportunity to meet people where they are, just as Jesus met people where they were in his time and place,” says the Rt. Rev. William Stokes, bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. “Hopefully those whom we encounter will take the card we give them, perhaps say the prayers on the card, and even consider entering into a ‘holy Lent.’ They might decide to see what is going on at a local Episcopal or other church, or they may not. I will be at the Trenton Transit Center again this year, imposing ashes as a reminder to all who pass by that Ash Wednesday and Lent are about God’s mercy and love for all human beings and an invitation to enter more deeply into God’s love in Jesus Christ.”