Putting Ashes on the Baby

My efforts to find an area church with AshWednesday worship at a reasonable hour for children are coming up dry. The church we attend has a noontime and a 7:30 pm option. Which is great for my husband, and other people who work near there: he can pick between lunch-break ashes or stop in if he’s had a crazy long workday.

I could take Abram along for a daytime service. But Zora would miss it because she’s in school. And by 7:30, Abram’s getting a little pooped.

Is there no, say, 5:00pm option?

Thing is: I think putting ashes on the kids is important.

I realize that I’m in the minority on this for a number of reasons. First off, of course, because I go to church alot (I’m kind of a monk…). Second, I know, because I think Ash Wednesday is good for kids.

Yes, there is something counter-cultural and a little freaky about smearing ashes on the forehead of a baby and saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Yes, I could be accused of being morbid for subjecting my children to this ritual.

But I am choosing to raise my kids in the church. In my list of things I hope for them, being members of a community that follows Jesus is tops.

We’ve had to talk to Zora about death often in the last year. I don’t want to shelter my kids from this. I want them to know that Jesus loves them even when life is not all sunshine and rainbows. I want them to know that Jesus loves them especially then…

I also want them to know that they are mortal. Created by God. Good, but now imperfect. But that they had water spilled on their heads as babies, and oil smeared in the shape of the cross. And that anointing calls them out to live examined lives. And that the Spirit works in them.

I want them to have early memories of those ashes and those words.

Early bedtimes for everyone for the next few days, I guess. Because we’ll be in the back of some church at 7:30 on Wednesday, trying to keep it all together long enough to get our foreheads smeared in ash.

3 Responses to “Putting Ashes on the Baby”

  1. heidi sue Says:

    Yes… Totally. Hwyk’s service is at 6.30. :)

  2. Meika Says:

    Love this, Erica. I’d also love to hear the words you use with them for this – I seem to hit a block when it comes to explaining some of this on their level.

  3. Susie Says:

    I love this series. Our church has a 530 service, and I’m excited to take B for the first time (our first time together – Luke has taken her solo the last two years while I was at work).