Are Ashes To Go really such a great idea? The Rev.Michael Sniffen of The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn is not sold:
Before you put on your gear and head out with the Lenten swat team,
can we be real for a moment? I know you are chomping at the bit to “meet people where they are” at your local commuter hub, but please pause with me in the sacristy for just a second.
I was so nervous about offending you that I almost decided not to put this out there, which says plenty about the fragility of my own clerical ego. But I need to be honest with you about how weird this “Ashes to Go” thing is. It’s really quite macabre to impose a sign of mortality and repentance without the freeing experience of ritual repentance or the pronouncement of God’s absolving grace by a priest of the church. I know you prepared a nice post card with Psalm 51 and a forgiveness prayer – but that doesn’t get the job done. Also, I’m wondering if you will be at the same corner on Easter Day to proclaim the Resurrection…but let’s stick with Wednesday for now. It’s hard to make a right beginning of Lent while on your way to Target after work. If one wishes to repent, they might prefer to speak with you privately or offer a prayer of the church in a less hurried manner. Those who can’t make it to scheduled Ash Wednesday liturgies often drop by a local church between services to receive ashes from the parish priest. I have never seen someone turned away.
Read his full post here.