Drive-thru ashes. Ashes to go. Ashes on the run. The new way to start your Lenten season. Takes all of 10 seconds and you’re done! These are the phrases I picked up as I scanned through the NJ.com article titled, “I skipped church and tried drive-thru ashes. It was enlightening.” Frankly , I was surprisingly saddened. I generally don’t participate in Lenten rituals, though I am an ordained clergy person. I’ve always wondered what was the point of “giving up” chocolate, social media, meat or soda or anything else, if our hearts are not really God-ward. Of course, if our hearts are God-ward regularly, then what’s the point of this yearly affliction and the performance of drive-by ashes pretty much proves my point. First of all the Lenten season is said to be a season of sober reflection and surely our interaction with the Holy ought to command our reverential respect. Drive-by ashes seems to negate that, at least for me. Secondly, we live in a microwave society with many distractions. If we cannot take the time to enter the sanctuary of our churches, listen and reflect on the (usually brief) liturgy and receive ashes, then we are probably distracted through out the season as well, not giving too much thought to God stuff anyway. Finally, I wonder if this Lenten season is any longer about God? I think maybe it began that way. But now, I think we conveniently framed God into another social celebration and seasonal festival. Oh, by the way, I love celebrating! But if God’s not really in it, let’s leave God out of it and have a spring party anyway. Just my Lenten reflection. Isaiah 58:6-8
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed[b] go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.