Drive-thru and virtual services mark Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – San Bernardino Sun

Southern California congregations have found creative ways by observing Ash Wednesday on February 17, which marks the start of the Lent season, when Christians imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness before to embark on his public ministry.

  • San Bernardino residents Jerilynn Roma and her husband Dominic place ashes tied to a piece of burlap on their foreheads after receiving them on Ash Wednesday from Pastor Rafael Deras at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church had to forgo an indoor Ash Wednesday service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Bruce Morr, a member of the New Beginnings United Methodist Church, sits in his vehicle as he receives his Ash Wednesday ashes in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church has had to forgo a Wednesday interior service Ashes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Rudy Valencia places ashes on his forehead at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church had to forgo an indoor Ash Wednesday service due to the COVID-19 pandemic in place to distribute ashes tied to a piece of burlap. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Rudy Valencia wears ashes on his forehead at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church has had to forgo an indoor Ash Wednesday service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead distributed ashes tied to a piece of burlap. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • The prepared ashes are tied to pieces of burlap at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church has had to forgo an indoor Ash Wednesday service due to the COVID pandemic -19 and instead distributed ashes attached to pieces of burlap which visitors then applied to their own foreheads. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Highland resident Joyce Leiffer receives her ashes from Pastor Rafael Deras at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church has had to forgo an interior Ash Wednesday service due to the pandemic of COVID-19 and instead distributed the ashes attached to a piece of burlap for self-application. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • San Bernardino residents Jerilynn Roma and her husband Dominic place ashes tied to a piece of burlap on their foreheads after receiving them on Ash Wednesday from Pastor Rafael Deras at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in San Bernardino on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The church had to forgo an indoor Ash Wednesday service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

Every large religious community has felt the impact of the pandemic over the past 11 months – the coronavirus has disrupted rituals, religious observances, festive gatherings and group prayer. Ash Wednesday this year was no exception.

The highlight of Ash Wednesday is when the clergy apply sacred ashes, usually the remains of palm leaves burnt during the Palm Sunday celebrations of the previous year, to the foreheads of worshipers in the shape of a cross. Lent is a time of fasting, repentance, prayer and charity.

But COVID-19 health protocols and fears of the virus spreading have prompted churches to resort to other means to observe the day.

Many congregations have organized ash-drive-thru distributions and services. Others sent ashes to their members and then organized virtual services. Some churches have organized in-person social distance services. In Catholic churches, for example, priests sprinkled ashes on people’s heads or placed them in the palms of their hands so that they could apply them themselves.


Source link

Perry A. Thomasson