Opening Activity: Human beings have the ability to be great!
(As a Visual Aid perhaps take a light bulb or something from the list below in order to start you off, or take several items and ask them what they have in common.) Human beings have achieved some amazing things. The discovery of penicillin, electricity, the light bulb, telephone, bridges and building, architecture, seven wonders of the world, cities, technology, medicine, etc. There are others too: athletes, explorers, scientists, philanthropists, carers, who have done wonderful, amazing things and impressed, influenced or inspired us.
Human beings have the ability to be not so great!
As well as having the ability to do amazing things, human beings also have the ability to do bad things—for example, wars, battles, atrocities, murder, etc. But not just obvious horrendous things like that, but (seemingly) smaller things: being nasty and unfriendly towards others, being selfish, gossiping about people, ignoring the needs of others, failing to help others, and so on. Sometimes, we’re not so great.
Ash Wednesday: a day turn away from the not so good!
Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s a day to get our live into perspective, and focus on some of the things that are not so good—not to make us feel bad or guilty, but in order for us to recognise our faults and to try to put them right so that we can really flourish and be the people God wants us to be. That’s why some people give things up during Lent—so that they can fill the space with something productive and good, and perhaps grow closer to Jesus and become more like him.
On Ash Wednesday people receive a cross of ash on their foreheads as a sign of mortality—to remind us that we are weak human beings who are capable of doing some pretty bad things. Today we look at our lives and say ‘sorry’ to God and make some kind of commitment to change our lives, to try to do only good and amazing things, not bad and shameful things. We call this repentance. It means turning around.
Father, we are capable of so many good and great things
but so often we fail to accomplish them
or we do things that are not so good.
Help us to focus on what’s really important
and to live as Jesus has shows us.
What you may need:
Light bulb, phone, table bottle, etc