In February 2018, something strange is going to happen. It may be nothing more than a coincidence of the calendar, but it creates a rather confusing collision.
For this year, Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday. Or, Ash Wednesday is Valentine’s Day.
Both fall on February 14.
Can you celebrate both?
Ash Wednesday is the solemn service about not only morality, but our mortality. “You are but dust, and to dust you shall return…” It is a reality check, a reminder of our own limitations. We are forced to look in the mirror and see, not only the good, but also the bad…not only our successes but also our sins. The wrinkles we see are more than merely signs of age. They are reminders of our imperfections.
Valentine’s Day is a joyful celebration of romance. People exchange cards, engage in expensive dinners, and buy extravagant presents. People pretend they are perfect.
These two days are never supposed to coincide.
Cupid’s arrows have no place in the Ash Wednesday Service.
Best way to quickly ruin a Valentine’s Dinner—Start talking about sin and death.
But, perhaps, you can celebrate both if you talk about LOVE and LIFE.
Valentine’s can be a superficial Hallmark Holiday, or it can be a sacred celebration. We can do more than merely send cards. We can express love not only to a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, but to family members and friends. We can show love to strangers, not by what we say but by what we do. We can remember that “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
And, Ash Wednesday with all its darkness is a reminder that though we are but dust, God loves us and grants us the precious gift of life. We face our own death so that we may more fully appreciate and embrace life. Jesus said it this way, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest…” Death is real. But, death is not eternal. Love is.
Ash Wednesday—Valentine’s Day.
We can celebrate both. We must.
This Lenten season, as we walk with Christ toward the cross, may we ever be mindful that what motivated Him in life and in death was love.