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Ash Wednesday Makes Modern-Day Updates


List of "Ashes to Go" locations in Sioux City

A century’s old-tradition meets modern-day convenience.    

Pastor Swanson from St. John Lutheran Church coordinates the “Ashes 2 Go” program.  It started in Sioux City a few years back.

“Drive through locations are fun and simple people don’t even have to get out of the car.”

A simple service at several locations includes churches, a college, homeless shelter and food pantry.

“The ashes are a sign of our mortality and brokenness.  But, they are made in the sign of a cross on our foreheads because we are marked and claimed by the cross of Jesus Christ to live victoriously and forever.” 

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Morningside College, Dr. Bruce Forbes also adds insight on the history of the Holy holiday.

“The way you repent or the way you mourn is sack cloth and ashes.  We heard that before.  It’s Jewish and it continues into Christianity.  It’s traditionally a time to recognize our own mortality.  And, a time for repentance.  It’s turning Christian attention to self-examination and somber thought leading up to Easter. “

Dr. Forbes says churches turning to “Ashes 2 Go” reflects our busy society.

“To be truthful, I would say when it comes to Ash Wednesday. I think the most important thing is the imposition of ashes and not necessarily, the full service.”

“The ashes are burned from the previous year’s palm branches from Palm Sunday. And, then ground into dust,” said Pastor Swanson.

Pastor Swanson says “Ashes 2 Go” gives people a chance to share a symbol of their faith.

"We know good things happen and bad things happen but faith is a strong component in day to day life and ‘Ashes 2 Go is a way to mark that and claim that as our own.”

And, Pastor Swanson hopes and maybe even prays for little divine intervention this Ash Wednesday.

“I would like to see 300 people be marked in public space and I would like it to be warm.  I’m hoping for 75-degree weather, that’s not going to happen in March.”