Ash Valentine's Day [2/14/18]
Ash Valentine’s Day?
February 14th is Valentine’s Day, but unlike most years this February 14th is also Ash Wednesday. This presents a peculiar clash of emotions at first blush. How to celebrate the gift of romantic love and faithful marriage partnership on the same day we are being called to rend our hearts in preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection? How to be lavish with the ones we love while being called to give something up in recognition of what Christ gave up for us? Without a deeper look it might seem like singing “Going to the chapel!” and a funeral dirge on the same day.
But then I was reminded this week as I was reading a devotional by Scotty Smith (one of my favorite pastor/writers) that Jesus constantly identified himself as a bridegroom coming for his bride, which is us- the people he loves. The epistles consistently pick up this illustration to help us understand Christ’s faithfulness to us even “until death did he part” at the cross. The scriptures close with a description of heaven as a wedding feast with Jesus paid for by his sacrifice for us.
From this perspective, celebrating Valentines day and the beginning of Lent on the same day seems totally appropriate. Here is an excerpt from Scotty Smith’s Ash Wednesday prayer:
“…We begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral; for you are the loving bridegroom who died to make us your cherished bride. The work’s already done; the dowry has been paid in full; the wedding dress of your righteousness is already ours; the invitations have been sent out; the date has been secured; you’ll not change your mind about us! We are much more beloved than we are broken. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”
Read Smith’s whole prayer here.
I’d invite you to prepare your heart with me for a great resurrection celebration over these next 40 days leading up to Easter. Pastor Daniel and I will be joining our hosts at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for a midday Ash Wednesday service in their sanctuary, reminding ourselves of how lost we are without Christ. We are planning a Lenten sermon series that will explore “Different Kinds of Lost” people that Jesus encountered and loved through the gospel of Mark, the first ever Grace Sacramento Good Friday service on and an Easter in the Park celebration Sunday April 1st.