East Trent Churches
February is a month for love and romance. St Valentine’s Day turns our shop windows red and heart filled as sales of cards, flowers and chocolates soar. It’s so natural to give a gift or a love token to show how we feel isn’t it? Sometimes it’s good if that gift is costly and extravagant, because it proves that our heart’s desire is serious.
Surprisingly this year, St Valentine’s Day falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday. That’s the day which marks the beginning of Lent, the six week period of preparation for Easter. Lent is often a time of fasting, it’s an opportunity to think about your life, what happened at Easter and maybe to give up some luxury or pastime that you think you can’t live without.
We start Lent, on Ash Wednesday, with a love token, but it’s not a pink heart or flowers. The Ash Wednesday symbol is a cross, it’s a cross made from the ash of last year’s palm crosses which is smeared onto our foreheads.
This may seem an odd thing to do, especially on Valentine’s Day, but you know, the cross is the greatest love symbol of all time. On Palm Sunday, when we get our palm crosses, we remember that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey; he willingly went towards certain death, faced treachery and abandonment, endured a rigged trial and torture and died an agonising death.
Why did he do that? Because of his love for all of us, because he didn’t want people and God to be separated and he did all that was needed to bring us back together.
That was Jesus’ heart’s desire and that was a huge price to pay, so surely now we cannot doubt that we are loved.
Of course, it’s even better than this. Jesus died, but three days later he rose again from the dead. I think the only thing that will never die is love, and because Jesus is all love, he couldn’t stay dead and all of our wonderful romantic words and gifts point to that perfect love with which Jesus loves us.
In Church, we’ll be celebrating St Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday and Easter, great celebrations of love, so look out for details and do join us, because love has got to be worth celebrating.
God bless you all