Of Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and Lent

SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflections
February 11, 2015

As we move into the second month of 2015, the red and green of Christmas transition into the black and purple of Ash Wednesday and Lent, and the red or pink of Valentine’s Day. This year, as often times occurs, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall very close to one another.

I suppose it might sound like I’m putting equal weight on the celebration of Valentine’s Day and our observance of Lent. In fact, I’ve wondered if there is a way that the two special days might complement one another.

Though it has some secular association, actually I think Valentine’s Day can offer a great opportunity to encourage the affirming of relationships with our loved ones. It’s not only a day in which love for a special person is expressed through gifts of cards, flowers, chocolates and a meal shared with each other.

On the other hand, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. It encourages Christians to examine themselves, repent of their sins and be renewed in the forgiveness of sins through the crucified and risen Christ. In the typical Ash Wednesday observance, worshippers are invited to receive the imposition of ashes upon their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Ashes have long been an outward sign of repentance, and, of course, the cross is a beacon of hope for believers through the forgiveness of sins.

So, can Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday and Lent coexist? Is it possible they can even complement one another? The pessimist in us would normally ask “How can the indulgence of Valentine’s Day offer anything to the penitence and denial of Lent and Ash Wednesday?”

There is however, one obvious and common denominator: Love.

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the love we share in those special relationships with our loved ones. Ash Wednesday and Lent point us to the greatest act of love, when Jesus Christ gave up His life on the cross that we might be forgiven and live. His victory over sin and death is revealed mightily on Easter.

Whether you choose to celebrate Lent, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day or all three, you can surely celebrate the gift of love.

Take a moment and tell your love ones you love them. Most importantly, take a moment to tell the Lord how much you love Him and give thanks to God for the greatest gift of love in his Son, Jesus Christ, by loving others as He loved you.

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