Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

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Psalm 51:1-17

My Story

I always feel the weight of the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic school in middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services. From that first Ash Wednesday service until now, it never ceases to amaze me how much I feel those ashes. It’s an odd feeling, someone placing ashes in the shape of a cross on your forehead. For me, the ashes help me feel the weight of my sin. None of us is perfect and we all do things that are wrong. These ashes remind me of the times when I’ve been mean, rude, and when I’ve said or done something that I knew was wrong. And should I forget about the ashes on my forehead, I remember just as soon as I glance in a mirror. Once again, I remember the weight of my sin. But the meaning in the ashes is twofold. Not only do the ashes remind us of our humanity (for from ashes you came and to ashes you shall return) and our sinfulness (because ashes are dirty), but the shape of the ashes (the sign of the cross) reminds us that we are forgiven. God has taken our ashes that we’ve brought to Him and He has forgiven us. He has cleansed us and made us new. So when I wipe away those ashes at the end of the day, I can forget about the weight of my sin and remember that God has cleansed me. I am a new creation.

Your Story

• Do the ashes have a particular meaning for you? Talk about your experiences with Ash Wednesday with your family.
• Do you ever feel the weight of your sin? You don’t necessarily have to share your sins with your family, but talk about how it feels when you give them over to God.

The Bible Story

Read Psalm 51:1-17. Here’s The Message version: Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down. You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise. Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Discussion

• If you have young children, talk about what sin is (i.e. doing something that you know is wrong but doing it anyway, hurting other people on purpose, knowing what is right and not doing it, etc.).
• Talk about how we all do things that are wrong and how, through Jesus, God takes away our sins.
• If your children have ever participated in an Ash Wednesday service, ask them if they remember how it felt.

Prayer

• Have a time of silent prayer in which each person asks God for forgiveness for things they have done that are wrong.
• At the end of the prayer, say to your family: God has forgiven your sins. They are gone. God loves you and He has made you clean.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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