This station is great for the first Sunday in Lent (or even better if you decide to meet on Ash Wednesday!) to get people thinking about what lent is about and how it is relevant to us. Print a couple of copies of the following reflection and stick them up around the table with your bowl of ashes. Alternatively have someone at the stations who can apply the ashes and say the words listed below.
- Printed instructions
- Bowl of ashes. Traditionally these are taken from the ash as the previous year’s palm crosses are burned. Charcoal works equally well.
- Wet wipes or some other way to clean fingers after ashing.
Lent is traditionally a time of sober reflection, self-examination, and spiritual redirection;
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this period.
In many Christian traditions, Ash Wednesday is marked by a ceremony of ‘ashing’ – a practice that stretches back to ancient biblical societies where ashes were a sign of remorse, repentance, and mourning… just as today someone might wear a black armband to signify that they are in mourning, back then people put ashes on their foreheads…
“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” 2 Samuel 13:19
“Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6
“O my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.” Jeremiah 6:26
During lent, ancient Christians mourned their sins and repented of them, so it was appropriate for them to show their sincerity by having ashes on their foreheads, usually applied in the sign of a cross.
In front of you is a bowl of ashes, set aside for this purpose…
Using these ashes, you might like to mark your own forehead with the shape of a cross, as a sign of your sorrow for the ways you’ve hurt God and others, and your sincere desire to follow the way of Christ.
The following words are often used as ashes are applied…
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ”