Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 4a: Remember and Represent
Station 4b: Renew
One half of a medium sized room with medium lighting. (Stations 3 and 4 can share the same room) A white bed sheet or cloth is pinned to a wall. Instructions for station 4a are placed on a music stand a few feet from the wall so people encounter them as they approach the station. A bowl of water and a bowl of ashes are placed on a small table to the right of the white cloth. (Due to the amount of ashes needed for this exercise, we used ashes from a fireplace for this station rather than ashes made to be placed on a person’s forehead for Ash Wednesday.) Baby wipes and instructions for station 4b are placed on a small table to the left of the white cloth. A trash can is placed near this table.
1. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4a: For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) Remember Who created you and what you were created for. By placing your hands into the water and then into the ash and then onto the wall, you are affirming your desire to join Jesus in bringing hope, salvation and new life to the world.
2. Persons read the following and perform the action for station 4b: Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:22-24 NIV) You’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:11 The Message) As you clean your hands before exiting, thank God for this fresh start and invite Jesus to use your hands for good works.
Confession and forgiveness, prayer and worship, growth and illumination. The journey with Christ naturally makes its way to joining Jesus in his mission. As I placed my ashy hands on the cloth, I remembered how eager Jesus was to get his hands dirty in saving work: the sawdust of honest labor as a carpenter, the rags of desperate lepers, the linen and spices of dead sons, the bread and fish of a miraculous meal, the salty spray when lifting Peter from drowning, the mud pie to make a blind man see.
I see Jesus smiling with a child-like delight while making the mud pies. (John 9:1-41) Our God is holy, pure. Yet God is willing to come down to our level, to be hands on, personal and intimate (how intimate is spit!), to get messy and dirty so we might be whole. Jesus making mud reminds me of Genesis 2 where God makes Adam (a whole person) out of mud and breathes life into him. (Adam literally means earth man or mud man.) Coming to faith requires remembering we are mortal/dust and in need of God’s eternal love and salvation. Embodying that faith means remembering those around us are also mortal/dust and sharing what we have found with them.
Jesus is willing to touch our lives, even though they are messy, oozing, and soiled. Am I as willing? As eager?
May the Blessed One
Open our lips in blessing
For words have the power to create or destroy
May the Blessed One
Open our hands in blessing
For actions have the power to heal or to wound
May the Blessed One
Open our hearts in blessing
That the grace poured in by Christ
To all, in all and through all
This station is the fourth of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.