Tree Of Life To Offer Ashes To Go

The Rev. Tara Eastman of Tree of Life Lutheran Church watches as the palm branches from Palm Sunday burn into ashes for Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter. P-J photos by Katrina Fuller

“The oil helps it burn,” said the Rev. Tara Eastman as she watched the dried palm fronds turn into orange flames and burn slowly to black.

Eastman, pastor of Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Jamestown, said the burning of the palm fronds is something she does every year just before Ash Wednesday to create the ashes used in the occasion. On Ash Wednesday, a cross of ashes is placed upon the forehead of each participant as Eastman repeats the phrase, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.”

Once again, the church will be hosting Ashes To Go, a drive-in or walk-up way to receive ashes, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Feb. 14 at the Immanuel Lutheran campus at 556 E. Second St. During that time, the church will be taking donations of non-perishable snacks, bottled water and socks for people being served by UCAN City Mission and Evergreen Health Exchange. While the Ash Wednesday event will only be for the morning, the donation collection will continue throughout the month of February.

“It seems like a simple way to help,” she said. “A bottle of water might not seem like much, but to people who don’t have access to clean water, it’s a primary need.”

Eastman said those who participate in Ashes To Go do not have to donate.

Eastman said the ashes are a sign of our humanity. However, while to some it is a sobering time, she said she sees it as a call to prayer. She said Ash Wednesday has a connection to both celebration and sadness.

“Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection and thinking about the sacrifices of Christ in preparation for Easter,” Eastman said. “I encourage people not to just give something up, but to pray.”

The palm fronds were gathered during Palm Sunday after being waved and prayed over by the congregation. Eastman said while many people think their prayers simply disappear, the cycle of palm fronds being turned into ashes is also a reminder that they do not.

“It’s sort of recycling those prayers,” she said.

In addition to Ashes To Go, Eastman said the church will host a full Ash Wednesday service on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Holy Trinity campus at 825 Forest Avenue. Throughout the Lenten season, the church will host Lenten dinners on Wednesdays which will include a light dinner, song, prayer, weekly devotions and special learning activities each week. On Feb. 21, the activity will be focused around artful prayer at the Holy Trinity campus.

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