(NJ.COM) -- In a year of Zoom Passover seders, virtual Ramadan Iftars and backyard Diwali fireworks shows, religious groups have been agile at adapting rituals for their quarantined congregations. As New Jersey’s Christian community approaches its second Lent season and Easter of the pandemic, one church has found a creative, touchless way to observe Ash Wednesday.
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church of Bridgewater has assembled 75 bags of blessed ashes to distribute to parishioners, so they can self-mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross next Wednesday. The ritual symbolizes repentance as Christians commence the Lent season, the six and a half weeks of reflection and preparation before Easter.
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Typically, clergy would dip their thumb into the ashes and mark a cross on to a parishioner’s forehead. This year, to avoid contact, Rev. Robert Laws is asking churchgoers to make the mark themselves or have a family member do it.