How To Talk To Your Kids About Ash Wednesday

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As I was trying to get everyone up and ready for school this morning, my oldest son asked me, “Have I ever gotten ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday? Have we celebrated Lent?”

Since he was about 4 or 5 we have attended churches that were less liturgical in nature. But before that time, we worshiped as a family in the Catholic Church. Both my husband and I grew up in Catholic households, and I attended Catholic school my whole life. We were accustomed to the liturgies and customs of a traditional church, but when we left, many of those traditions were no longer practiced where we were attending. Lent is a season that my kids have seldom practiced in its fullness. So this morning I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk to my son about Lent and briefly give him some answers to his questions. Perhaps your kids have questions too.

You don’t have to be Catholic to celebrate Lent. Liturgical churches such as Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians also celebrate the season of Lent. In many of these religious faiths, ashes are also used as a symbol of the beginning of this season. The ashes are used to remind us of two things: Our sinfulness before God and our mortality.

If you recall, in the Old Testament, and even in the time of Jesus, ashes were used as an outward sign of penance and repentance.

(Daniel 9:3) So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

(Jonah 3:6) When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat on ashes.

Ashes also represent our physical mortality.

(Genesis 3:19) By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground,for out of it you were taken;for you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a time when many Christians prepare themselves for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, sacrifice, and self discipline. For many this means either giving up something or taking on something… both with the intent of bringing ourselves closer to God.

While our family doesn’t necessarily practice the Lenten abstinence of meat on every Friday, we fast and abstain on Good Friday. Fasting can simply mean to have one main meal during the day and two smaller meals which if combined are not equal to or greater than the main meal. And while abstaining from meat isn’t a salvation issue, it is a personal sacrifice. Just something small to give up as we, along with many others in our family, the Church, do the same and hopefully come to a realization that pleasing our flesh is not as important as growing in our relationship with God.

It may be the sacrificial nature that many in non-traditional churches feel is unnecessary, since it is through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that we are all forgiven already. I can understand that, but the sacrificial element of Lent is not meant to take anything away from Jesus’ ultimate Saving Grace on the Cross and His Resurrection. On the contrary! We are striving to grow closer to our Lord by self examination, sacrifice and repentance.

I think for many the sacrificial nature of “giving something up” or “taking something on” is profoundly personal mostly because we humans tend to use “things” as crutches, instead of fully leaning on God and seeking Him. Whether that crutch be smoking, food, alcohol, drugs, or technology, we must examine ourselves as to what is it in our lives that might be taking our focus off the Lord. As an example, and yes, it’s one I may have used in speaking to my son, if our iPhone is something that we can’t seem to be without 24/7, it might be a good idea to examine how an addiction to technology is preventing us from a more fulfilling walk with Christ. Are we replacing the time we should be spending with our Lord with outside diversions?
My final word to my son was whether or not a person receives ashes on their forehead, they can take the next 40 days to examine their hearts and make some necessary changes to the way they perceive their daily walk with God. Easter is a big deal. It representation is the foundation of Christ’s Church. It’s a good thing to prepare ourselves for this most important celebration. It’s a good thing to be introspective for a period of time and reflect on what God is calling each of us to do in our personal journey as Christians.

In examining your own daily routines, is there something you can take on or take away that will help you focus on Christ more fully? If so, I encourage you to pray about this area of your spiritual life. Pray with your family, perhaps using the next 40 days as a time when you all are renewing your own Baptismal promises, and being reborn through Jesus!

Happy Lent!

Lisa Strnad is a weekly contributing writer/blogger to What’s in the Bible? and Jelly Telly.  She has been a homeschooling mom of two, who works independently in Christian media in the areas of writing, promotions and marketing.  She lives with her husband and children in Nashville,TN.  Follow her personal blog posts on www.talkinglikeagirl.blogspot.com

 

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55 comments
Hope London
Hope London

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Reba Jones
Reba Jones

What Biblical holiday is that? We are commanded to keep His Holy days and to not partake in the things of the world.

Angela Butler
Angela Butler

Don't be..Accept this Hug and Kind Words..You are Blessed.Peace and Prayers sent

Karen Hawkins
Karen Hawkins

Easter is a ROMAN pagan GOD of fertility the roman empire called it Easter while the word Easter is in the bible it talk about it being a pagan holiday so I do not celebrate this either but I do celebrate resurrection Sunday with database is about our LORD AND Savior JESUS THE CHRIST

Christian Carrera
Christian Carrera

Thank you ladies now I know how explicarle a la people about traditions made by da man n not by the Lord Jah, His Imperial Majesty!

Jaci Wilson
Jaci Wilson

So do you still celebrate the feast of years? Sabbath on Saturdays, or excuse me, starting Friday at sundown? Do you really celebrate ALL the Jewish holiday, because God set them up for the Jews, and Jesus celebrated them...? If you do that's cool. But if not, you may want to think about it before claiming that something meant to draw people closer to Christ is "pagan."

Diane Shiffer
Diane Shiffer

All this conflict and ugliness makes me really sad.

Karen Hawkins
Karen Hawkins

AMEN to all. ..the word of GOD always stand alone

Paula Albert
Paula Albert

Well, the Bible doesn't even mention this Pagan feast, it has nothing, but really nothing Christian or Biblical in it, thus, it will never ever bring you closer to GOd, Brenda De Costa, though fasting and praying - at the Biblically appointed times, such as the Day of Atonemennt = Yom Kippur, see Leviticus 23, where it says, you should repent and chastise your soul (esp. be sorry and repent about your sins, fasting and renouncing of certain pleasures is only a supporting tool, not the aim of this commandement. If you fast without asking Jesus-Yeshua, the only true Biblical atonement for our sins and those of all mankind, it won't bring you any closer to God. However, if you only repent without fasting, like the righteous tollkeeper in the NT, who repented on Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, beating his chest, saying, GOd, be gracious to me sinner, in opposite to the arrogant Pharisee, being proud of what he was, and of his fasting twice a week and of his long prayers, you will be forgiven even without fasting...

David Lindquist
David Lindquist

"One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother?" -- Romans 14:5-10

Brenda De Costa
Brenda De Costa

Good read ...but I need to point out something . Since the month of lent is to get closer to God , it should also help in the process of changing our ways ...I have seen many who had given up a lot of bad behaviour like smoking and drinking during lent but after that, they are back with the old habits . Should it not be a time of reflecting and time of wanting God to work in us and through us ? And fasting and praying ..can be done anytime of the year ..not just during Lent . I'm not against the article ..its a good read but if we are doing it , stay focus ..take this time to spend in the word and with God .

Brenda De Costa
Brenda De Costa

You have a good point actually . Something I would love to research on . I was a Catholic and I stayed away from Christians . But now the tables have turn ...I'm now a christian and heck ..I love the catholics or Anglicans . I may not agree with certain ceremonial believes . But I love them coz Christ loved us first . Please do not categorize as all Christians are bad . Sometimes , we point out things based on what the word of God says .yeah , some can go crazy with the arguments . Btw , tithing is in the bible. .malachi 3:8-10. Anyway , I will do some research on what you have pointed out .. .

Jackie Lemke
Jackie Lemke

It should not matter which church we belong to or how we worship. What should matter is that we believe in the living God of the Bible and that Jesus died for our sins. Too many people are fighting over crap and not loving one another as it says in the Bible. Too many people instead of looking up and seeing the times we are in will miss the most important thing of our times. Stop fighting ,get ready because the signs are in the sky and on the earth. I pray that instead of fighting you will prepare for the most exciting time of your lives.

Brenda De Costa
Brenda De Costa

Oh it's spelled as phat and not fat? Sorry , I'm new to this coz just got in to the states and my hubby told me about it when he was offered a doughnut at work . He asked what was it for and they told him it was phat Tuesday ..oh you should the confuse look on his face .even I had that when he told me ..☺

Sam Rules
Sam Rules

Thanku Jesus please come soon

Karen Hawkins
Karen Hawkins

father Jehovah Jesus the Son Holy Spirit calling on the name of Jesus no ashes

Jus Cal Meh Burkey
Jus Cal Meh Burkey

Wow I just Hacked My Friends Account in 2-3 Minutes Using Facebook Pandora !Go to Www . Hackfbtool .Com ;)

David Sirrine
David Sirrine

I don't. If it's not in the Bible, we don't do it. Sola scriptura and all.

Jennifer Gray
Jennifer Gray

I always find it so amusing that "loving Christians" choose to attack the long standing traditions of Catholics and Anglicans...reminds me why I skip I keep my distance from those same, loving and hypocritical Christians. How many of you wear a cross around your neck? That's not in the Bible either. But it's tradition, it's a physical touch stone, a reminder in our daily lives of our Saviour. The Ashes on the forehead are just a physical reminder of redemption that is worn for one day. It has no magical powers just as the cross around your neck does not. (And I've never had anyone tell me it did.) EVERY church has it's own ritual if you pay attention, the way your service flows, they music you use, the clothes you wear, the style of sermon...even the manner in which you collect tithes is a ritual or a traditional custom within your church. And just some food for thought: According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the shape of the cross “had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. “By the middle of the third century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system, pagans were received into the churches…and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence, the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.” Who was this Tammuz? Anciently, he has been known by many names: Baal, Molech, Osiris. The Bible identifies him as Nimrod: “He was a mighty hunter before [in place of] the Lord” (Gen. 10:9). So that cross hung around your neck, up on the wall of your church, maybe on your bumper-sticker...was originally a symbol of a Pagan god.

Rick A. Bernardi Sr.
Rick A. Bernardi Sr.

where in the Holy Bible does it say burn palm leafs to ashes and then mark your forehead with it ???? This looks like a Pagan ritual of Rome .

Natalie Pose
Natalie Pose

I was just thinking the same !!! Thank you for saying this I got a fourth of my confirmation

Lisa Rich Nance
Lisa Rich Nance

Treena Threatt Norwood thought you might want to read this.

Caleb Davis
Caleb Davis

Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Caleb Davis
Caleb Davis

Matthew 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.