Well, it's Ash Wednesday so right on schedule the blogosphere has broken out discussing Ashes to Go. Opinions are strong on both sides. Same arguments every year.
I'm very pro. I really don't have much to add over what I said in 2011 about what I think about it:
First, it's a powerful outreach. To those fallen away, it is a call back to the signs and rhythms of the liturgy. To those who may be questioning, it is a step towards belonging. Basically, for people who are not going to church, and who aren't going to go in "cold", it's an invitation and a welcome. Maybe it will call them to want to learn more.
Second, it's a statement of faith in the public square. While I have a passionate sense that the state should not sanction religion..., I have no problem with the free expression of religion. You Episcopalians are the nicest group of Christians that no one knows about, and too often hide yourselves in the walls of your churches. Why not make a statement of who you are where people can hear it?Except for this:
One of our friends was a member of one of the Ashes to Go teams that our community sent out around downtown San Diego today. She said of her experience, "one man stood for a while after receiving ashes and then said - "I thought God had abandoned me, but I guess he hasn't.""
Worth the price of admission?