The service that begins our Lenten journey, known as Ash Wednesday, is February 14. This is a service of penitence and humbleness, giving us time to reflect on our own mortality and sinfulness and allowing us time to turn from those things in our lives that we know are harmful and not Christ centered.
Ash Wednesday takes on a deeper meaning by being the entrance point to the Lenten season—a season in the church year where we remember the forty days before the crucifixion; where we make preparation for the celebration of the major event of the liturgical year and for the central event of our lives: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Ash Wednesday becomes a poignant remembrance of last year’s Palm Sunday and Easter celebrations, for we have saved the palm branches from that service and we burn them until they become ash which is then used to create a sign of penitence upon our foreheads this year. The use of ashes during the service gives an outward sign of our inward connection to the hope of death and resurrection. It also reminds us that we were formed from the dust of the earth, and that we will return to the earth at our last day. Highland’s ministers will also impose ashes on all infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who will be in childcare, as well as Carol Choir, and their teachers.
Join us on Wednesday, February 14, at 6:15 p.m., in the Sanctuary, to experience a journey toward Easter filled with the wholeness and humanity that God dreams for us.
This year’s Lenten theme, “Beloved Is Where We Begin,” is inspired by the art and poetry of Jan Richardson. The Worship Ministry Group will guide us through this Lenten season of blessing to open us to life, equip us to serve, and call us to action. To enrich your Lenten journey, we have gathered a list of some resources of daily devotionals, spiritual disciplines, worshipful practices, and theological reflection by clicking here.
Experiencing Ash Wednesday with Children
Like Advent, Lent is a season of readying and preparation as we move toward Good Friday and ultimately Easter. The journey begins as we experience Ash Wednesday together. As we approach the Lenten season, we remember that children are part of the larger body of Christ that is our community of faith. Kindergarten through 5th grade children will join their families in the Sanctuary as we witness the transformation of our Sanctuary from its traditional silver and bright colors into more earthen tones, browns and burlaps and pottery and purples. Notice, compare and contrast with your child how the Sanctuary looked the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and how it is changing before your eyes on Ash Wednesday as we gather for worship. Listen together to the music and notice how it sounds different in its more somber tones and minor keys. As our children will be reminded the first Sunday in Lent in Children’s Worship, the ashes remind us that we belong to God and the sign of the cross on our foreheads reminds us that we are followers of Jesus.
In scripture, ashes were a symbol of repentance—saying you are sorry for something you have done wrong, or perhaps something you should have done that you chose not to do. Repenting allows us to make a promise to God that we will do better. And so, this action of taking ashes also reminds us that we are imperfect human beings and that we promise to keep doing our best to act in the ways that God would want us to as we go through our lives. The ashen cross reminds us that through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we can see and know the deep love and mercy of God.
It is important to remember that children may or may not fully understand the ritual (do we as adults fully understand the ritual either?) but it is in the act of participating that the meaning emerges and begins to be found year after year. Feeling the room change and noticing how we move and speak and play music differently allows Lent to be felt in our bodies, not just in our expression of words. And so, our children learn as they go, adding layers of understanding to their experiences which allows them to more fully understand the season.
In addition to our worship together, ministers will offer the imposition of ashes to our children in childcare as well as preschool music and mission. We will remind even the youngest among us that they too belong to God as we place the ashes on their foreheads. Of course, if children do not wish to have the ashes, it will not be forced upon them and if you as a parent wish for your child not to receive the ashes, just let us know before the service begins. But there is something powerful in remembering that life is finite, that we are God’s and never is that starker than when we see the sign of the cross upon our children—challenging each of us no matter our age to live our lives as God would have us to, encouraging us all to be part of the realization of God’s dream for our world. ~ Renee