Thursday, February 23, 2012

Get Your Ashes in a Flash!

After I had written my post yesterday about Ash Wednesday, I read the following story: Episcopalians are administering Ash Wednesday at train stations, bus stops and subways. “Five years ago,” reports the Rev. Teresa Danieley, “I had an epiphany of sorts. If people can grab breakfast on the go, why shouldn’t they be able to get their ashes in a flash?" Her idea grew into the “Ashes to Go” program—now bicyclists, drivers and bus passengers have a convenient way to be smudged by the sign of the cross. 
While I can't fault the Episcopalians for taking their ministry to the streets (after all, Jesus didn't confine Himself to the Temple), it seems strangely incongruent with Jesus' message to “COME! Pick up your cross.” Is it possible "Ashes to Go" trivializes the meaning of the Cross?  A.W. Tozer's words of 50 years ago are very relevant today.

“The new cross says ‘come and get.’ Whereas the old rugged Cross says, “Come and give.” Whereas the old Cross was meant by God to be the symbol of death and detachment from the old Adam life, this new substitute cross does not intend to slay the sinner but just redirect him. The new cross lets Adam live without interference [or interruption]. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for himself."  Smudging people with the sign of the cross on Main Street may be one more sign of the times.

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