Happy Ashintine's Day? Valinash day?

I can't even say how much I love today.

It's Ash Wednesday.

But it's also Valentine's Day. Apparently this conjunction of the holidays happened in 2018 (I vaguely remember that) and will again in 2029 and then won't again until we and possibly even our children are all long gone.

Now, I'm not a big proponent of Valentine's Day. It's overblown. There is too much pressure. Too much emphasis on "what I am doing for you; what I am saying to you; what I am expecting to receive from you..."

Ironically, I'm also not a big proponent of Ash Wednesday...or at least I wasn't until a few years ago. I didn't grow up celebrating Ash Wednesday. The community church we attended never talked about it - at least, not that I recall. I didn't know what Lent was, either. But I have enjoyed this added element to my faith as an adult.

And so along comes this year, a rare conjoining of two holidays, when the seven-week preparation of the ultimate gift of love meets the 24-hour celebration of the feeble (by comparison) love of humans.

Quite the mashup.

On the one hand: perfect love. On the other: fallible love.

On the one hand: Jesus. Fully God. Fully man.

On the other: Us. Made in the image of God, sure...but not able to live up to that ideal any more than we are able to sing the Hallelujah Chorus on the day we are born. We are "fully human". Period.

On the one hand: Looking to Easter as the ultimate fulfillment of our needs...

On the other hand: Looking to a person as the ultimate fulfillment of our desires.

Wow. When I put it that way, it really brings the picture into focus for me. If I come from the premise (and I do) that Jesus is God and his payment for our sins on the cross was the ultimate fulfillment of my needs (forgiveness of my sins), then to compare that to anything a human can offer by way of fulfilling another human's desires...there is a lot left to be, well, desired.

And that's the problem with Valentine's Day. We're imperfect. We don't match up. We fail. We forget. We don't live up to expectations. We disappoint. Valentine's Day only seems to prove that we aren't everything we should be. We simply can't be everything that the object of our affections wishes we were.

We are, in short, human.

Ash Wednesday, however, is all about pointing us to the cross. Pointing us to the ultimate love. Pointing us to the One who Never Fails. The One who was the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Perfection vrs. frailty.

All mashed into this one day. "Ashintine's Day". "Valinash Day". This day, when we celebrate the ones we love as fully as we possibly can despite our human weakness.

This day: when we look to the ideal love of Christ.

This day: when Jesus, the ultimate Valentine, reminds us that "when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:4,5)

God knows about our imperfections. He knows and he still loves us.

As any good Valentine will do.

1 Comment

Nancy - April 14th, 2024 at 11:51am

So fun to think of Jeses as the perfect valentine!!!! Loved it