By Miriam Rossow
Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have landed on the same day this year! This is a rare occasion and a rather strange occasion. Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, romance, and ooeygooey feelings for each other. Flowers, chocolates, candy, romantic dinners, balloons, and pink and red hearts abound today.
Ash Wednesday on the other hand is the start of Lent. A season of reflection and repentance. Black and dark purple are the colors for this season. Lent is a season where we take a close look at ourselves and realize the mess we are in and the amazing need for someone to help.
Lent is a time we realize the brokenness in our relationships and world. Lent is a season of hard and painful stories in the bible. The stories of Jesus during Lent are not ones that show humanity at its best. As we follow Jesus we see betrayal and abandonment from His closest friends. We see how the people in power and those that should have been the most aware that the Son of God was present plot His death and destruction. We see division and hatred.
Flowers, chocolates, candy and balloons do not seem to mix with division and hatred, betrayal and abandonment. How can we both celebrate Valentine’s Day and observe Ash Wednesday on the same day?
How can we both celebrate Valentine’s Day and observe Ash Wednesday on the same day?
I recently have been reading the book of John with some friends. We just finished Chapter 18 which is the chapter that tells of the arrest and trial of Jesus. The previous five chapters are chapters from the upper room, yes five! They are Jesus spending time with his closest friends and followers and sharing some last words of encouragement and direction. Jesus knows what is coming and He is preparing His disciples for the days ahead that will be some of the worst they know. He is preparing to die, rise, and then ascend and the lives of the disciples will be forever changed.
It is in these five chapters that we see Jesus wash the disciples feet, eat with them and share news that they will abandon and betray Him. In the upper room Jesus tells His disciples that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus tells them that He is the Vine and they are the branches. He promises that although they can not go where He is going He goes to prepare a place and He will come back. Jesus promises that as He leaves the Father will send a helper, the Spirit, who will be with them always.
It is in the upper room that Jesus tells the disciples that they will have tribulation and to take heart for He, Jesus, has overcome the world. Jesus promises that their sorrow will turn to joy. And here in the upper room during the last hours that Jesus will spend with His disciples before He goes to the cross He gives them a new commandment, that they love one another as He has loved.
He gives them a new commandment, that they love one another as He has loved.
Love one another is what we get just before everyone leaves Jesus? Love is what He is talking about as He prepares to be found guilty even though He is innocent and then beat and put to death in the most excruciating way known to man? These are not acts of love that follow. At least not from His disciples.
For Jesus, love is what it is all about! Jesus loved His disciples in the midst of brokenness. He loved despite rejection. He loved fiercely and with His whole self. Jesus loved even when it looked and felt like He should throw in the towel. He loved even when it seemed that there was no hope. Jesus loved all the way to death.
For Jesus, love is what it is all about!
Maybe Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day do belong together. They are both about love.
On this day that is both Valentine’s Day, all about love and togetherness, and Ash Wednesday, a day for repentance and brokenness, know that Jesus brings these both together. Jesus showed us love in the midst of our brokenness. Jesus loved to make our brokenness togetherness instead. Jesus is love. And He is love for you!
Shower your Valentine with the love that says even when you mess up, I love you. The love that says with my whole self I love and despite the brokenness I love. Share the love that loves when it is not owed. Love like Jesus loved. Love in the midst of brokenness and rejection. Love in order to bring forgiveness and hope. Put yourself aside and love!
Love like Jesus loved.
On this Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day come and receive a Valentine from Jesus. As you receive ashes in the shape of the cross tonight know Jesus has sent you a Valentine. The cross is Jesus giving you Himself and showering His love upon you.
Happy VaLENTines Day!
Join us for Ash Wednesday services at 7pm tonight. Then through out Lent join us each Wednesday at 7pm and Sunday at 8:30 or 11:00 as we walk towards the cross. Here is an overview for the focus during our Lenten services.