Bishops and “Ashes to Go”

UPDATE: Bishop Rickel’s comments at end of this item.

It’s the bishop edition of Ashes to Go!

Bishop Nick Knisley of Rhode Island had people waiting for him at their Ashes to Go location:


Additionally, here is a local news report and video from

Bishop William Franklin and 13 priests from the Diocese of Western New York tried Ashes to Go.

Bishop A. Robert Hirschfeld of New Hampshire wrote on Ashes to Go on the NH Diocese’s new “Church Transfiguration and Expression” page on Facebook:

When I first heard about Ashes to Go a couple years ago, my first

thought was, give me a break! Isn’t the thrust of Ash Wednesday to

call the whole community to repentence, amendment of life, and the

steadfast love of God that recreates us out of the dust? This sounds

like yet another gimmick to boost the numbers on our attendance.

Then I read the story of Jonah preaching to the people of Ninevah, a

population considered beyond his own circle of familiarity; indeed a

whole city of strangers. I read Matthew’s counsel to avoid doing

things just for show of our own personal and private spiritual

gratification. And I begin to consider that perhaps Ash Wednesday and

the season that follows is an invitation to re-define words like

“self,” “parish,” and “community.”

It seems to me that the ashes of Lent remind us that we are created,

out of the dust, in the image of God. The image of God is one of

isolation, alienation, or detachment from creation and humanity.

Rather, being Trinity, God is indeed Community, always reaching out,

inviting in, reaching out again and again, by the action of the Holy

Spirit and in the en-fleshed person of Jesus. Created in that image,

our selves are not just private and isolated, but are constantly

invite out. Likewise, the Church is not defined by the list of

canonically eligible voting members, or the list of “pledging units”

but can be seen as the whole geographical region, the whole web of

human interaction that takes place in a town, a city, a village, or as

they say in some places in the south, a parish.

Ashes to Go is not about inflicting a smudge of dirt on strangers, but

rather witnessing how God invites us to be recreated out of dust to

form a new community of selves who are linked in love, service, mutual

regard, dignity. I saw God when I stood with my sisters in Christ on

the front steps of the Newport, NH Post Office. I saw God’s mission in

action when I witnessed the tenacity of a 94 year old woman get out of

her Ford Focus, decline our invitation to receive ashes, walk up the

steps to the Post Office, and the speak with another neighbor who,

also declining the ashes, spent ten minutes engaged in caring, loving,

dignified conversation about the elderly woman’s health and safety

living alone without the security of a “Live Alert.” They may declined

the ashes, but wow, did we not see God’s glory shine in the midst of

an acknowledgement of human frailty and mortality?

These are the moments of conversion that I, and the whole Church,

stand in continual need of. May such conversions toward God’s ongoing

light and presence be manifold among us this Lent.

Your in Christ,

+ Rob

This is addition to the earlier photos of Bishop Budde in Washington DC.

UPDATE: Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington) wrote about Ashes.

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