Our church is located at one of the busiest street corners in Brentwood, TN (corner of Wilson Pike and Concord Rd. where the construction project from H#!$ is underway). Our location is one of our main assets. Many who drive by don’t know we on the corner because our church sits below a land berm, making us hard to see from the road. Few commuters know the greatest assets we have to offer on that corner: our outstanding care of young children with our preschool; our strong music; our proclamation of God’s grace and love. So with these assets in mind we are taking to the streets for “Drive Thru Ashes” when Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday.
Church members and I will be on our street corner next Wednesday from 7 am - 9:30 am to offer ashes to drivers in their cars who are commuting to work, running kids to school, or on their way to morning exercise. I’m not lying when I say this whole business of offering ashes on the street is new for me and we will all find it to be a bit awkward. To give ashes to a stranger on the street who was driving by and look into their eyes and say “you are dust and to dust you shall return” will be a bit awkward for all involved. It is awkward because I am talking about theirs and my death. And nobody wants to talk about death.
We are going to get a lot of quizzical looks. The Baptists are going to think that this is a “Catholic Thing”, the Spiritual but Not Religious are going to think this is an “irrelevant Church Thing,” and the tradition-minded Church folks will think it is a “Reverent Thing” and we should keep the imposition of ashes inside the church where it belongs.
We are going to the street corner because we see the significance of Ash Wednesday as a “Need Thing.” We need to be reminded of the promises of God that we are God’s, that there is no sin, and no darkness, and yesno grave that God will not come to find us in and love us back to life. Christ is with us. These promises outlast our earthly bodies and the limits of time. For we come from God and to God we shall go. There is so much that gets in the way of that simple truth and it is at times like on Ash Wednesday - when all of the other things that occupy our attention doesn’t matter as much.
For those who drive thru and receive ashes, they will be given a CD or connected to our podcast so as they drive to meet the rest of their day they can hear music and reflections on the significance of Ash Wednesday and be reminded that that they aren’t ultimately in charge of their lives, God is, and that’s good news.
If you are reading this I hope you will drive thru (7-9:30 am) or stop in for our Ash Wednesday service at 6 pm.