Ashes in Schools
Do you uses Ashes in your school worship during Lent? If you do, why? And if you don't, what's stopping you?
Over the last three years I have included what's called the "Imposition of Ashes" into our normal chapel cycle during the first week of Lent. Our Secondary Chapel conveniently falls on a Wednesday and our Primary and Kindy chapel on a Friday. In our Y6-12 Chapel, I ash about 5 staff who then go to various stations around our worship space with myself where students can voluntarily go to receive the ashes and traditional words; "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return". What's been pleasing is the increasing number of teenage students who feel comfortable to stand up in front of their peers to receive this visible mark of Lent on their foreheads. In our Primary Chapel I invite all classroom teachers who want to, to come forward and be ashed. These teachers then go back to their classes and walk along the lines to ash their students who are standing to signify their willingness to participate in this ritual. Most of these younger students eagerly do this.
This year in our Junior Chapel I ashed a three year old from our Kindy and even a baby that a mother was holding. Why would we want to remind a baby and mother that they are going to die and return to dust and ash one day? Sweet innocent babies dying, is that what Lent and Ash Wednesday is about?
Lent and Ash Wednesday are certainly about dying and rising. The way of the cross is the pattern Jesus established for his disciples. Dying to sin and death. Rising to forgiveness and new life. Giving students the opportunity to participate in those black smudged marks in the shape of a cross on their foreheads is a worthwhile activity. A ritual activity worth doing in an invitational way.
God bless your Lenten journey in your school as you highlight this special time.
About this site
"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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