Shepherd of the Hills church offers ‘Ashes to Go’

NORTH SHELBY – On Ash Wednesday, Pastor Carolyn Hayford of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church hoped to take the church out into the community.

The church offered “Ashes to Go” on March 6, with local residents given the opportunity to drive through church property to receive the imposition of ashes, prayer and coffee or water.

“Lives are really busy for folks, and we realize people want to have the opportunity for this as part of their day,” Hayford said. “It’s a chance for us to reach out to the community and let them know how much God loves them.

“Jesus didn’t spend all of his time in a church. We come to church to worship and then are sent back out into the world, where we are God’s hands and feet.”

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for Christians, which is 40 days of reflection, prayer, self-evaluation, fasting and giving of time and talents in service of others.

The ashes imposed on the foreheads of believers symbolize aspects of human existence, including God’s condemnation of sin, cleansing and renewal, the shortness of human life, and our need to repent, confess sins and return to God.

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. The reminder that we are dust turns our attention to the creative power of God and God’s ability to heal the brokenness in our lives when we offer that brokenness to God. Our turning to God is the work of Lent, our preparation for the celebration of Easter,” the pastor prayed over participants.

About 75 people visited the church the morning of Wednesday, March 6, Hayford said, and more visited for a new evening session.

“You have some amazing conversations with people,” Hayford said. “It’s just a blessing. It truly is Holy ground.”

Hayford said Shepherd of the Hills is a church that welcomes all. Other worship opportunities related to Lent at the church include:

  • Regular Sunday services at 9:30 a.m.
  • Stations of the Cross self-guided meditation (path through the woods behind the church).
  • Wednesday evening services from March 6 through April 10, with soup suppers at 6:15 p.m. and the services at 7 p.m.
  • Palm Sunday service at 9:30 a.m. on April 14, Maundy Thursday service at 7 p.m. on April 18, Good Friday service at 7 p.m. on April 19, Easter dawn service at 5:30 a.m., Easter day service at 9:30 a.m. and Easter brunch and egg hunt at 11 a.m.

For more information, visit SOTHL.org. The church is located at 4887 Valleydale Road.