Ashes to go: Get blessed on the run for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Grass Valley |

Ashes to go: Get blessed on the run for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Grass Valley

Trina Kleist
Special to The Union


WHAT: Ashes to Go

WHEN: Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14. Drive-thru imposition of ashes 7-9 a.m. & 12-2 p.m. Ash Wednesday Service: In the Sanctuary, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley

INFO: For more information visit

For people who don’t have time to get to church for the traditional start to Lent on Feb. 14, Peace Lutheran Church offers a solution: Ashes to go.

Commuters and folks on their lunch breaks can drive to the church at 828 W. Main St. and get their ashes without even exiting their vehicles. All they need to do is drive around the building to the portico on the west side, from 7 to 9 a.m. and again from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

The Rev. Eileen Smith Le Van will stand ready to reach through an open window and touch the forehead of all who come, making the sign of the cross.

She will offer a short blessing and ask each comer about any prayer concerns, which will be lifted up.

“It’s a way of taking God to the people,” she said.

“This is for anyone who desires to make a connection to God,” Smith Le Van said. “If they want to know more, they are welcome to come to the service at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary.”

Ash Wednesday is the traditional start to Lent, a 40-day period in which human frailty and mortality contrast with divine and limitless love. Like a period of pilgrimage, it leads practitioners to the hope proclaimed at Easter.

In Jewish tradition, ashes were a sign of repentance and grief, and early Christians continued the practice. Gregorian Catholics marked the beginning of Lent with a “Day of Ashes” as early as the eighth century, according to historian Fr. William Saunders of

In recent decades, many Protestant churches around the world have taken up the use of ashes, applied to the forehead, at the start of Lent.

It’s an outgrowth of the ecumenical movement and evokes the death of Jesus Christ at the end of Lent.

The pastor applying the ashes recalls words from the book of Genesis, when God condemns Adam and Eve to mortality after they sin: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

“But the ritual also reminds believers they have hope,” Smith Le Van said. “Ashes in the sign of the cross are a reminder of our mortality. In baptism, we make the sign of the cross using water.

“And water is a sign of new life.”

Trina Kleist is a Grass Valley freelance writer whose clients include Nevada Irrigation District. She may be contacted at or 530-575-6132.

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