Marking Ash Wednesday and Lent
Ash Wednesday, March 5, is the day that Lent begins. It is a day of reflection for us to stop, pause, and examine our lives. What is it we want to change? What is it we want to do? This is a day set aside to remember we are a part of God’s creation and we need to be working with God and with one another to participate in God’s mission for us.
On Ash Wednesday, you may be a part of an Ash Wednesday service, which can be a very powerful and grounding service. In the service, you may have ashes put on your head. These ashes are made from the palms used at last year’s Palm Sunday service. The ashes symbolize the death and burial of those things we want to be rid of as well as the beginning of the journey toward Easter and our Baptismal renewal.
Marking Ash Wednesday in your Home or with Friends
- Paper and pencil
- Bowl with gardening soil
- Sturdy Plant or seeds
- Plant container
Gather everyone together, inviting them to begin Lent by giving everything that is troubling them over to God. Invite each person on a piece of paper to write or draw those things that they would like to change, do differently, give up, or take on in their Lenten journey. Once each person has finished writing or drawing, tell them to put their paper into the soil so that one corner is planted in the soil and the others are sticking out. With the supervision of an adult, burn each one so that is smolders into the dirt. As they are burning, read the following prayer:
Gracious God, we enter into Lent with the awareness that we are called by you to be exactly who we are and who you made us to be. Help us to change those things that are getting in the way of being that person, help us do differently so we can become who we are meant to be, and guide us through our Lenten discipline of giving up or taking on so that we can come to know you better. As these papers burn into the soil, let us be mindful that each part of our lives, both good and bad, can help us to grow. Amen.
When the burning is complete, mix the soil with your hands, mixing in the ash. Take the soil and put it into a gardening container, place your plant into that container or plant the seeds in it, and then invite each person to water the plant or seeds.
End by saying the Lord’s Prayer or The Prayer of Self-Dedication found on page 832 of the Book of Common Prayer.
40 Days of Prayer
Lent is a time for daily devotion. We invite you to create a prayer station on your kitchen table or in a common spot in the house. Put out a box, paper, and pencils or pens. Invite everyone in the house to add a prayer to the box each day or whenever they feel they need to offer something up to God. If you choose, you can open the box once a week and take turns reading the prayers that have been offered. Alternatively, you can leave the prayers in the box the whole season of Lent.
40 Days Thanking God
Each day of Lent, be intentional about looking for those things for which you are grateful. When you find one of those things either write it down, or take a picture of it. Gather those grateful words or images in a bowl and look through them each day or week as a family and give thanks.