By Cherie Werner
Before you begin:
There are probably several crosses in the room where your message will happen; try to make them visible from the place where you will be. If that is not possible, bring a few with you. Hold at least one cross in your hand as you start the message.
Ask: Does anyone know what today is called? (Ash Wednesday) Do you know why today is important? It is the beginning of a time in the church year that we call Lent. Lent is the 40-day period before Easter. It is a time when we think about all that Jesus has done for us and we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning.
Hold up a cross. This is one of the things we think about a lot during Lent. What is this? Do you see any other crosses around? Yes, there is a cross there and there (point to several around the room). Some people even wear crosses around their neck. Why are there so many crosses around? (Listen to responses.)
The cross reminds us of two very important things: The cross reminds us of our sins. It also reminds us of God’s amazing and unconditional love for us.
The first thing we need to remember is that you and I are sinners. Each of us sins every day. We sin in ways we know and in ways we don’t know. What are some of the sins you and I commit? (Listen to responses.) Yes, all of those are sins. What do we need to do when we sin? (Listen to responses.) Yes, we need to confess our sin, tell God that we are sorry, and ask him to forgive us. We also need to ask for his help to do better next time.
I don’t know about you but the problem with me is that I keep sinning, even when I try really hard not to make mistakes. Does anyone else have that problem? (Listen to responses.) Yes, we all do. Sin is a terrible thing because God hates sin. Our sins separate us from God. He is holy and perfect, so he must turn away from sin.
I just said that God hates sin and he turns away from sin, but listen to this: God lovesyou and me! He loves us so much that he doesn’t want to turn away from us; he wants to be with us forever. That is why God sent Jesus to take our sins to the cross. (Hold up the cross in your hand.) When Jesus died on the cross, he took all of our sins upon himself. Instead of turning away from us, God turned away from Jesus that day. Because of what Jesus did for you and me, we are forgiven and our sins are gone!
Today is the first day of Lent. Do you know when Lent ends? (Listen to responses.) It ends on Easter. What happened on the very first Easter? (Listen to responses.) Yes, Jesus rose from the dead! We celebrate Easter every year because it helps us remember that Jesus died and rose again to take our sins away. Now Jesus is alive and there is nothing that separates us from God! When we have faith in Jesus and receive that gift of forgiveness from him, we get to be with him forever!
Will you please pray with me? (Say the prayer as an echo prayer.)
Dear God (pause to allow children to repeat your words), thank you for sending Jesus (pause) to take away all of my sins (pause) on the cross (pause). Help me to understand (pause) how much you love me (pause) and help me to remember (pause) that nothing will ever separate me (pause) from your love (pause). Amen.
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