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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Arctic Ashes

Below is an article from the February 19, 2015, edition of the Grand Haven Tribune about the ministry of our church.

Some drivers and passengers waved in return as Cramer braved the chill and blowing snow to offer “Ashes to Go” for residents unable to attend a church service on Wednesday, which begins the six-week Lenten season.

For the third straight year, the rector of the Grand Haven Episcopal church devoted one hour in the morning and another in the late afternoon to standing along the busy boulevard in front of Starbucks. Although a handful of people stopped, Cramer said the cold weather makes them a little less inclined to get out of their cars.

In an effort to stay warm, Cramer bundled up in his normal deer hunting gear of boots, socks, hat and gloves. This year, he kept the ashes in a hand warmer for easier access.

Cramer said it’s an important invitation no matter how cold it gets. People tend to cover their sin and guilt, but Lent is an invitation to acknowledge it and find grace within it, he explained.

“I think the invitation of Lent, the invitation to journey into the dark places and the pain in your life to find grace and forgiveness, is an important invitation,” Cramer said.

As Cramer rubbed ashes onto Muskegon resident David Clark’s forehead, the rector said, “Remember that you are the dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Clark, who normally attends Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spring Lake, said “Ashes to Go” saved him from having to drive out again in the bad weather that evening.

The ashes are from last year’s palms on Palm Sunday, and they represent repentance and mortality, Cramer said.

Although some motorists might not have known why Cramer stood outside in the arctic blast, the rector said he hopes his presence will encourage people to look up “Ashes to Go” and learn about the meaning of the season for the church.

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