Ash Wednesday: You Have Dirt On Your Face

Next week is Ash Wednesday. Does your church family celebrate Ash Wednesday? Do you? Do your kids know what Ash Wednesday is?

Below is an excerpt from our new family Bible study, What Does “Lamb of God” Mean?

UPDATE (2/21/17): The completion of this study has been shelved for the time being. Learn about Nancy’s current project here.

Week 1, Day 3: You Have Dirt On Your Face

A school calendar sets aside time to remember and celebrate things like Black History Month and Dr. Seuss Week. The church calendar sets aside time to remember and celebrate certain things too. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, exactly forty days before Easter.[i]

Does your family do anything special on Ash Wednesday? If so, what? When I was growing up, we had a special church service on Ash Wednesday where people would go up front and the pastor would put two smears of ashes on their foreheads, making a cross.

On Ash Wednesday, many Christ-followers remind themselves that they’ve sinned. They’ve messed up and are not perfect. Romans 3:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). Without Jesus who died on the cross to pay for our sins and came back to life again, we would be lost and separated from God forever. God wants us to repent, to turn away from our sins, telling God we are honestly sorry and asking Him to help us not do it anymore. When we repent and believe Jesus is who He said He is and took our punishment for sin on the cross, we can have eternal life.

How might ashes help Christ-followers remember why the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection is so important? Here’s a hint: God said to Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34:27, “when you heard my words against this city and its people, you were sorry and humbled yourself before me. You even tore your clothes to show your sorrow and cried before me. Because your heart was tender, I the Lord have heard you” (ERV).

God doesn’t ask us to tear our clothes and roll in the dirt. He does, however, ask us to be truly sorry for our sins and turn to Him, trusting Jesus to save us. Are you? Be sure to tell God today.

Want More?

Job was a man who followed God faithfully. When hard times came, Job asked God why. Read Job’s reply to God’s answer in Job 42:1-6. What attitude goes with putting ashes on yourself?


[i] Several times in Scripture, we read of people who covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes. Sackcloth was a very scratchy material used to make sacks, not clothing. Ashes are what is left when a fire burns down. Their color ranges from light grey to pitch black. Sackcloth and ashes were only worn as an extreme picture of a hurting and broken person crying out to God in prayer. For examples, see Esther 4:1, 3; Isaiah 58:5; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13. See also passages where people tore their clothes and put ash or dust on their heads. Joshua 7:6; 2 Samuel 13:19, 31; 1 King 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30; 19:1; Ezra 9:3; Esther 4:1; Job 1:20; 2:12; Isaiah 37:1.

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Nancy Ruth

Nancy Ruth is the Co-Founder and Primary Content Creator at Parent Road Ministries. Learn more at

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