March 5 is Ash Wednesday, and once again the clergy and people of St. Charles Episcopal Church will be at the Geneva train station offering "Ashes to Go" during the morning commuter rush. In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent. Lent is a time of penitence and fasting leading up to Easter. During this time, Christians around the world reflect on their spiritual journeys, their relationships, and on their own mortality. On Ash Wednesday, many Christians go to church and receive ashes on their foreheads as a sign of their mortality. But for many, making it to church on Ash Wednesday just doesn't happen for a number of reasons from inconvenience to indifference. So the people of St. Charles Episcopal Church decided to go out and meet them where they are at, both literally and figuratively.
"In an increasingly secular world, our church hopes to bring the church out to the people and into the marketplace to better serve the world. What better way to understand the hopes, needs, and concerns of the world than by being out in the world?," said the Rev. Elizabeth Meade, a deacon at St. Charles Episcopal Church.
Meade emphasizes that any and all are welcome to receive ashes, no matter their denomination or even religion. "In my years of offering Ashes to Go, I have talked and prayed with so many people at the Geneva Metra stop," she said. "Some were regular churchgoers, some had fallen away, some were just curious, and some were folks who have been wounded by religious institutions and yet still feel drawn to God. One woman simply wanted a hug."
"It is a great way to start the day: reminded that we are all beloved and forgiven children of God," Meade said. "I see it as a public reminder that God is everywhere, seeking to refresh and restore the world."
St. Charles Episcopal Church, 994 N. Fifth Ave., St. Charles, offers three Sunday morning services. For information, visit www.stcharlesepiscopal.org or call (630) 584-2596.