Confessions with Sand

This contemplative prayer station focuses on our need for grace by using buckets of sand.  This station is great for Ash Wednesday services.

Directions for Leadership:

This is another powerful station.  This can be set up in back for individuals to go through, can be set up in an entire room and done as a large group, or  can be turned into an entire hour long “church service”.  I will explain it as if for an hour long service.

Set up:  Place pillow cases (enough for every person) at the entrance of the room or sanctuary.  Set up a large cross front and center of the room and around the outside walls place buckets of sand.  Your number of buckets will depend on how many verses you want to use.  If you have a very large group you will want more buckets as well (60 people, large room, 20 buckets).  Above each bucket place directions specific to each sin to be confronted.



Take a moment and think about this last week.  Were you selfish?  Did you take more of something than you needed?  Were you greedy with your money? Time?  Do you wish you had more money, things, or toys?  If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.


Did you choose to play on the computer, surf the net, lay around the house, instead of working, doing schoolwork or chores around the house?  Did you oversleep last weekend?  Did you watch TV or a movie instead of doing something you know needs doing?  If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.

Losing your Temper/Hate/Prejudice

Did you lose your temper with your kids this week?  Or with your parents?  Or your brother/sister?  Or friend?  Is there someone you treated badly lately?  Do you find yourself hating your enemies (personal and national)?  If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.


Do you wish you had something your friend has?  Are you jealous of their car, iPod, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, house or family?  Do you wish you looked like someone else? If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.


Do you spend over 10 minutes looking in the mirror every day?  Is there anyone you think you are smarter than, better than, prettier than?  Did you refuse to apologize even though you knew you were wrong?  Have you tried to make someone feel stupid? Have you called someone an idiot, moron or any other negative term? If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.

Overindulgence/Substance abuse

Do you have a bad habit that you just can’t quit?  Have you overeaten lately?  Have you bought things you didn’t need?  Have you shopped for clothes even though you have a full closet?  Is there something you can’t quit even though it’s harmful to you or those around you? If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.


Is there someone you have been dishonest to?  Have you lied to your parents?  Have you cheated on a test? Have you hidden the truth? Have you been dishonest with your spouse?  Have you taken credit for something that’s not yours? If yes, take a full scoop of sand and put it in your bag.

Order of Service:

Have someone greeting people as they come in.  People will be handed a pillow case/bag and told to go stand in front of the cross. (If you have elderly, go ahead and place chairs for them to sit up there as well.)

Read the following:

This world is in the process of redemption, reconciliation and renewal.  God is trying to fix the brokenness and bring his Shalom back into every part of this world and its cultures and its many relationships.  Sin is anything we do that hinders God from doing this.  Many of us have trouble with the concept of sin. It is difficult to accept that even when we are trying to be good; there are areas of our life that remain against God’s ideal for us, against God’s desires for restoration. We may still harbor lusts, or tell lies, or make hurtful comments to others. We are broken in many ways.

Hard as it is to accept our failures, it may be even harder to confess them – even privately in prayer to God. However, that is what God asks us to do: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We will take the next 20 to 30 min. in silence to do this in a tangible way.  There are buckets of sand around the room.  When we start you will go to a bucket, no more than 3 people to each, and you will read the directions for that specific bucket.  When you have finished at that bucket move to another bucket and do the same process over again.  Keep doing this until I bring us back together here before the cross.

At this point have everyone go out to the buckets.  Have music playing softly, monastic chants are what I use.  When you bring everyone back together, have them stand in front of the cross as a group.  If you would like you can teach a bit, having them stand holding their burden (reference Pilgrims progress if you want!)  The “sin” gets uncomfortable and heavy.  Then invite everyone forward to place their bags of sins at the foot of the cross.

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