But before that, in 2018, Ash Wednesday is also Valentine’s Day. Yep, Ash Wednesday is February 14th. Now that is an odd combination, isn’t it?
Ash Wednesday is one of the two most somber days in the church year, along with Good Friday. It is the day we are reminded, in a stark, powerful, and, for many, a very visible way, that we are mortal, that our end is death. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”, we hear as ash is placed on our foreheads in the shape of a cross. We are called to pray and fast, to examine ourselves in light of our sin, to repent and return to the Lord. We are setting out on the journey with Jesus to the cross. We are called to take up our own cross and follow. It is a serious, somber day.
And this year it is also Valentine’s Day, perhaps the most romantic day of the year. This is the day we focus on that most personal, intense, and intimate of emotions – love. We send cards and gifts to the ones closest to our hearts. We do romantic things, we do fun things, we spend quality time with the ones we love. It is a day of joy and celebration, a time of intimacy and fellowship. We are called on this day to celebrate love, to rejoice in the love we have, to seek out ways to express love, not only to those closest to us, but to all the people who matter in some way to us. It is a lighthearted, fun day.
And this year, these two days are the same day. What are we to do? How do we honor both days on the same day? How do we balance love and death, somber and joy ful, on the same day? Can we do it at all, or do we have to choose one or the other? Might the connection we seek be found in the good news that God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to take on death, defeat it, and thereby free us from the final power of death? That the love of God is greater than death? That death is, in fact, defeated by the greatest love of all, the love that should inform and underpin all of our love, the love of God?
February 14th is Ash Wednesday, and February 14th is Valentine’s Day this year. How will you honor the day?
Our mid-week Lenten worship begins on Feb. 14, with a service at 7PM that will include both the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion. Each of the following Wednesdays we Lent, we will gather in the sanctuary at 7PM, for a sermon series focusing on readings from the Easter Vigil. The readings will include Creation, The Flood, The Deliverance at the Red Sea, Salvation Freely Offered to All, and Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace. The sermon series will be accompanied by the Senior Choir leading us in Holden Evening Prayer.
See you in church!
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