Ash Wednesday in School

The plan has been for a full immersion in the Ash Wednesday experience for the young people of Bickleigh Down CE Primary School, along these lines. Feel free to borrow/adapt/improve as you need for your own school settings
To enable young people to encounter the idea of sin, the need for repentance and the wonderful opportunity of grace at a level which is appropriate to their age and faith development but which culminates in a whole-school response and act of worship which reflects both traditional and creative methods of expressing the solemnity of Ash Wednesday

Throughout the day (as timetabled), Fr. Simon to visit each year group. Each class to produce artistic/creative responses to that session and the meditation in each session which are then offered at the end-of-day act of collective worship which culminates in one of the Church’s finest multisensory rituals: ashing

Each theme below to be differentiated for each year group. Each session requires access to Powerpoint and Sound Playback and space for some movement and ritual for each yeargroup. Fr. Simon will produce these materials.

Downloadable Powerpoint: Ash Weds Teaching

Videos and other materials can be downloaded from here

• Introduction and Welcome
o Fr Simon will be unfamiliar to the Young People and so will need to introduce himself to each group
• Purpose of the Session
o Recall Pancake Day / Shrove Tuesday
o Identify today as Ash Wednesday
o Set Ash Wednesday in context of Lent, Holy Week and Easter
o Describe Ashing: where the ashes come from and what they are used for
o Burn a Palm Cross with a blow torch to make the link clear
• Doing Bad Things
o The reality of bad things in the world, in the playground
o How bad things affect relationships
o How people feel when bad things are done to them (Golden Rules?)
 Opportunity to recap whichever rule system is used in school
o Bad things make God sad = sin
• The effect of saying sorry and meaning it
• The promise of forgiveness
• The reality of grace
• Opportunity for personal reflection on our actions
o Including guided silence and reflection with music and images (visual) – Why does my heart feel so sad?

(modified from this version without the Palm Cross ritual)

• Ritual with stones and large pot of water (supplied by Fr. Simon) and/or cairns of stones scattered and then rebuilt depending on year group (kinaesthetic)
• Task:

Draw/Paint/Collage in small groups/individually (decided by class teachers) pieces to offer reflecting on Ash Weds.

Examples might be:

• Ink ripple prints recalling the water/stones ritual earlier
• Charcoal as an art medium, recalling the Ash
• Collage of news items/internet images of things for society to repent about (older age group)
• …or of course any others thought up by Young People, Art Manager, Class Teacher etc!

Act of Worship at the end of the school day

Gathering Song: King of Kings, Majesty

King of kings, majesty
God of heaven living in me.

Gentle Saviour, closest friend.
Strong deliverer, beginning and end.
All within me fall at your throne.

Your majesty, I can but bow,
I lay my all before you now.

In royal robes I don’t deserve
I live to serve your majesty.

Earth and heaven worship you
Love eternal, faithful and true.

Who brought the nations, ransomed souls,
Brought this sinner near to your throne.
All within me cries out in praise.

Your majesty, I can but bow,
I lay my all before you now.

In royal robes I don’t deserve
I live to serve your majesty.

One of the staff recaps the day’s Ash Wednesday activities


protect us in our struggle against evil.
As we begin the discipline of Lent,
make this day holy by our self-denial.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Gospel: John 21:1-19

Fr. Simon could simply retell the story in the idiom of the next book: Frontline Evangelism with Youth People (yes, that is a plug)

Original text:

1 Later, Jesus appeared again to his followers by Lake Galilee. This is how it happened: 2 Some of the followers were together—Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the two sons of Zebedee, and two other followers. 3 Simon Peter said, “I am going out to fish.”
The other followers said, “We will go with you.” So all of them went out and got into the boat. They fished that night but caught nothing.

4 Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore. But the followers did not know it was Jesus. 5 Then he said to them, “Friends, have you caught any fish?”

They answered, “No.”

6 He said, “Throw your net into the water on the right side of your boat. You will find some fish there.” So they did this. They caught so many fish that they could not pull the net back into the boat.

7 The follower Jesus loved very much said to Peter, “That man is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself. (He had taken his clothes off to work.) Then he jumped into the water. 8 The other followers went to shore in the boat. They pulled the net full of fish. They were not very far from shore, only about 100 yards. [b 9 When they stepped out of the boat and onto the shore, they saw a fire of hot coals. There were fish on the fire and some bread there too. 10 Then Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish that you caught.”

11 Simon Peter got into the boat and pulled the net to the shore. It was full of big fish—153 of them! But even with that many fish, the net did not tear. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” None of the followers would ask him, “Who are you?” They knew he was the Lord. 13 Jesus walked over to get the bread and gave it to them. He also gave them the fish.

14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his followers after he was raised from death.

15 When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these other men love me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Take care of my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Then Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 A third time Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad because Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you!”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep. 18 The truth is, when you were young, you tied your own belt and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands, and someone else will tie your belt. They will lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Then he said to Peter, “Follow me!”

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Fr Simon’s Homily: Washed Clean

See an example here:

Example text (I always ad lib this, so this is just a guide):

Tools: (supplied by Fr. Simon)
2 Clear Glass Bowls
1 small bottle of Iodine
1 bottle of Film Fixer
1 Purificator or Handkerchief

Fill the two bowls with approximately 1 litre of water, in one bowl have approximately 150-200mls of fixer in the bottom [adding the water could be part of the story


In the name of the +Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

I want to show you something quite special this afternoon, something that illustrates very clearly what God does for us.

I have here, in these very bowls, some water, as you can see: plain ordinary water. Now these two bowls represent the world, and as the world is over 70% water, it is quite right that they are full of water.

Now, here I have a handkerchief, a plain ordinary handkerchief, and I think, even, that it’s clean. This handkerchief represents us, people in the world; and as you can see, when I dip it into the clean water, it stays nice and bright and shiny.

However, the world isn’t really as clean as all that is it? There are lots of nasty things going on, people killing each other and hating each other, simply because they live in the wrong part of town, or because they have different colour skin; people arguing and stealing and telling lies, all things that make God very sad about the wonderful world that he created: failing to love God, failing to follow God’s laws and failure to treat other people as we want to be treated.

So, to show this, I am going to add a few drops of some of this badness into the bowl of water, just a little, because I am sure that there is just a little bit of badness in the world, not a lot, but see what happens – the little bit of badness spreads throughout the earth and makes the water all mucky and brown.

What happens when I dip the nice clean hankie into the water now [put hankie in iodine solution, and it goes black – it makes it dirty and stained: we are affected by the badness in the world, and we are marked by it; see how the hankie goes black – and sometimes we even make the badness worse by adding our own badness: a bit of lying, a bit of cheating, a bit of stealing and a bit of failing to love God as we should.

Now, in this other bowl, we have a slightly different world, a world which is touched with the love of Jesus Christ in it: he loves each and every one of us, no matter how black and dirty we think we may me, no matter how clever we are or how we look, he simply loves us no matter what

Watch what happens now, if I take the cloth that is us, marked with sin, and put it in the Jesus bowl, [put cloth in fixer bowl, and it will turn clean again it takes away our sin, and makes us clean again, and you can see that the hankie has gone back to white again, as it has been touched by the love of Jesus.

However, and I think this is the clever part, this story does not just end with the wiping clean of us, and the making of us clean from sin: watch what happens when I take the cloth that has encountered the love of Jesus, and put it back in the dirty, sinful old world again [put the cloth from the fixer back in the iodine solution – the iodine will clear and the ‘water’ will be clean again, the love of Christ which has changed you, has the power to change the world, and the effect of sin can be overcome.

Let us Pray:

Dear Lord, we know that there are so many bad things that happen in the world, but help us to see that these bad things are not caused or made by you, but that they are the result of people turning away from you, and going their own way without listening to your commandments. We know that you feel for each and every one of us, when something bad happens and to show that love for us, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ to take away that sin, that badness for us. We saw with wonder and amazement, the really cool way that you wiped out our sin, and we ask, Dear God, that through us, showing the love of Christ in the way we treat each other, can make this world once more, sinless and clean.


Forgiveness Song
As the following song is sung, the art offerings are brought to the front. Candles are safely placed around them.

When I say I’m sorry
I know that You hear me
When I know I’m wrong
Your love will set me free

I’m sorry for not obeying
Sorry for sometimes straying
Sorry for things that make You sad

Liturgy of Ashing

Dear friends in Christ, let us ask our Father to bless these ashes which we will use as the mark of our repentance.

(Silent prayer)

Lord, bless the sinner who asks your forgiveness
and bless + all those who receive these ashes.
May they keep this Lenten season in preparation for the joy of Easter.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

The Ashes are sprinkled with Holy Water

Video: Prayer from the Heart (John Taverner/Bjork) modified for Ashing

Every person, beginning with the priests are offered to be ashed. They are then given a small prayer card. They are ashed with the words:

Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.
God loves you. God forgives you. God restores you through Jesus Christ
They are then given a small prayer card which says:

Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.
God loves you. God forgives you. God restores you through Jesus Christ

Bickleigh Down Primary School, Ash Weds 2012

If anyone declines Ashing, they will be offered a prayer of blessing and a card. If they decline both, they will be offered a card.

Fr. Simon recaps on forgiveness and grace leads the Lord’s Prayer (Traditional Version) and teaches a very silly song on forgiveness:

You’re forgiven and you know it, so clap your hands
You’re forgiven and you know it, so clap your hands
You’re forgiven and you know, so you really ought to show it,
You’re forgiven and you know it, so clap your hands

Jesus loves you and you know it, so stamp your feet
Jesus loves you and you know it, so stamp your feet
Jesus loves you and you know it, so you really ought to show it
Jesus loves you and you know it, so stamp your feet

If you believe that God forgives you, say “We do” “We do”
If you believe that God forgives you, say “We do” “We do”
When you say that you are sorry, you no longer have to worry
God takes away your sin, so say “Amen”. Amen!

Simon Rundell (2011), Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children, Canterbury Press


Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,
to deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow him;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Our service is ended. Go in the peace, love and forgiveness of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

Recessional Video

Matt Redman – Blesséd Be Your Name