Creative Confession: Jar of Ashes and Crowns of Righteousness

We’ve talked about confession as a spiritual habit before (see HERE), but I want to share a creative way to practice confession during the season of Lent specifically.

The purpose of confession isn’t just to get a clean slate. It is that. Scripture tells us that if anyone says he’s without sin, he’s deceiving himself and lying to God (1 John 1:8).

But also, taking time to reflect and ask the Hey Spirit to reveal ways we’ve fallen short of God’s holy standard reminds us of our need for a Savior. It’s easy to get so caught up in our daily tasks that we don’t think much about our sins, and so we forget why Jesus’ sacrifice is so precious.

But when we confess specific ways that we’ve failed to love God and failed to love others, we come face to face with our need for a Savior, and Jesus becomes more precious to us. It’s worth taking the time to slow down and confess our sins, not just once a year on Ash Wednesday, but on a regular basis.

Here’s how to do today’s creative devotion:

– Cut up some paper into little pieces.
– Pray Psalm 139:23-24 and ask God to search you and show you specific sins to confess. Write the sins on the pieces of paper, fold them up, and put them in a little jar. (If you’re doing this with children, you may need to prompt with some examples.)
– Using a lighter, burn the paper to ashes, and crush the ashes with the back of a wooden spoon. Using the ashes, make a cross on your forehead or on your hand. (This practice became popular in the 1960s.)
– To present the full Gospel story, read Isaiah 61:1-3. Then take some olive oil or diluted essential oil as the “oil of joy” and wipe the ashes off, reflecting on how Jesus takes our sins away.
– Using construction paper, make crowns of righteousness to represent that “He became sin who knew no sin so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

If you’d like, you may save the ashes for next year’s Ash Wednesday reflections, or keep the jar in a “remembrance station”—a tray where you can gather and store all your Lenten activities and crafts.

(Correction: In the video, I mention that the practice of ashes on Ash Wednesday is relatively new. I had read several articles stating that placing ashes on foreheads in the form of a cross was a practice started only in the 1960s, but further research has revealed that this practice had been decreed in the Catholic church since 1091 [see source]. My apologies for the misinformation.)

Your Next Step

Take some time in the next 24-48 hours to sit with God and confess your sins. You may choose to use the jar of ashes and crown of righteousness, or just keep it an auditory practice. If you’re able, invite your family to participate with you and experience the joy of forgiveness and the growth of adoration in your hearts. (If you post to Instagram, tag me @asheritah so I can cheer you on too!)

Scriptures to Read

Psalm 139:23-24

1 John 1:9-10

2 Corinthians 5:21

Isaiah 61:13

Recommended Resources

Uncovering the Love of Jesus, by Asheritah Ciuciu

The Good of Giving Up, by  Aaron Damiani

Creative Meditation for Children: Passover Lamb (video in Creative Devotions Collection)


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