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Drive through ashes? Houghton churches takes Ash Wednesday to the streets

On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, Portage Lake United Church and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will be offering “Ashes to Go,” a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition. The churches will be offering the imposition of ashes to people during the morning and afternoon commute times in Houghton.

Stop by Portage Lake United Church during the morning commute, 7-9 a.m., and Pastor Peter Norland will be offering imposition of ashes outside of Portage Lake United Church. During the afternoon, Pastor Bucky Beach will be outside Good Shepherd Lutheran Church with ashes for anyone who stops during the afternoon commute, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Look for the signs along College Avenue in Houghton on Wednesday, as you drive by and stop by for “Ashes to Go.”

Both churches have convenient drive through parking lots and drivers can simply turn off the main road and drive through for ashes.

For those wanting a more traditional experience, Portage Lake United Church and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will be holding an ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service at Portage Lake United Church 7 p.m. Wednesday Evening, Feb. 26.

The two Houghton congregations are part of an informal nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and invite them to consider their mortality and seek renewal.

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on their forehead at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. Ashes to Go provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.

“‘Ashes to Go’ is about bringing the sacred actions of our faith tradition outside of the church walls and into the places we need them every day.” says the Rev. Peter Norland, of Portage Lake United Church; “While not a substitute for a worship service, ‘Ashes to Go’ does allow people who may not attend a service to encounter the holy through this reminder of our mortality, forgiveness, and a call to renewal.”

Contact Peter Norland at 906-482-5224 or Bucky Beach at 906-482-5410 for more information.

More information about the Ashes to Go movement can be found at www.AshesToGo.org

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