The Most Difficult Ash Wednesday I’ve Experienced



I’m sitting in my study this morning, having just finished observing Ash Wednesday with a number of folks from Kaleo. As I was reflecting on the nature of the day, it reminded me of a post I wrote six years ago. It was right after the first Ash Wednesday service I had officiated since my oldest child, Mirabelle, has been born. It was one of the hardest nights of my life, but I’m grateful for the way it has brought home the weight of Romans 6:23 in my heart. I’m reposting that original post below…

Kaleo hosted an Ash Wednesday service a few days ago. Ash Wednesday services are not popular – putting the call out to spend an evening remembering your own mortality, repenting of your sin is not a great way to draw a crowd. They are not easy to participate in either – there is no way to make prayers of confession, silence, and black ash symbolizing our sin “light” or “conversational”. But if nothing else, Ash Wednesday is a powerful day.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in quite a while was to take black ash and place it on Mirabelle’s head. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to look into my seven month old daughter’s eyes and remind her “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return”. But it’s true – because of sin… her sin… she will one day die. Just like you. Just like me. Just like us all.

But even in the midst of reflection and prayer, there is great hope. Even as we wear black ash on our foreheads as a reminder of our sinfulness and mortality, there is a joy. The ash on our foreheads is formed in the shape of a cross, reminding us that we are to view our sin in light of the cross of Jesus. Our sin is paid for! We carry it no more. It is forgiven! God is full of mercy and grace, and has reconciled us to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

So now, during this season of Lent, we ask God to draw us closer to Himself. We devote ourselves to meditating on His Word, to immersing ourselves in prayer, to fasting, to serving, to giving. We cry out that we might know more of this amazing, loving God who has brought light where there was darkenss, hope where there was once despair. May Lent be a season full of His grace.


  1. This past Ash Wednesday I was traveling and worshipped with an Anglican congregation. Many babies were marked there as well. It was the first time I had seen it, and it was very powerful as well. Thanks for trying to put words to the feelings.

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