We now find ourselves entering into the month of February. This year in February we begin the season of Lent. The high holy day of Ash Wednesday begins this season, and this year it falls on February 14th. As you read this, you may be thinking, isn't there something else happening on February 14th? You would be correct. This year Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day fall on the same day. This is somewhat of a rare occurrence. Overall, it is not often that these two days collide. The last time this predicament happened was in 2018. However, before that, the last time this took place was in 1945. The next time this will occur will be in 2029. However, according to the website timeanddate.com, 2029 will be the last time in this century. The next time being in the year 2170. For many, this situation may bring about some confusion. On the surface, the messages of these two days do not seem to mix. On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love with chocolate, roses, and food. It is usually a day filled with joy. However, Ash Wednesday is more somber. It acts as a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. It marks the beginning of a period of penitence. However, maybe these two days have more in common than one might think. Perhaps, love has a place with penitence. Perhaps, it is because of God’s love that we are called to repent, to turn away from our sin. In our repentance, we turn to Jesus, to the cross, and when we do this we come to know what love is. In his letter to the Romans, Paul even writes about this. In speaking about God’s judgment versus our Judgment, Paul asks the Romans “Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?(2:4)” So, as you can see, love can lead to repentance. In the season of Lent we are reminded to consider the “great love” that was demonstrated through Jesus’ suffering and death, the self-giving love of Jesus.
So, my question to you all is what shall we do in this repentance? Perhaps, this repentance can turn us from sin to love. Maybe when we repent, we can look to Jesus and his love to be our guide on to live a life of love. So, as we continue on throughout this season of Lent, I ask you how will you love? This will probably look different for each of us. One might participate in feeding ministries. Others might stand up against oppression or perhaps some will simply pray for each other. No matter what you do, know that you are loved and so repent. Turn to the cross, and as the Rev. Peter Antoci, an Episcopal priest in Upper Marlboro, MD put it: “Remember that you are beloved, and to love you shall return,”
Peace and Blessings, Pastor Ethan Doan