Something unusual is happening this year that I have never experienced, or at least can’t remember. This year Lent begins on Valentine’s Day and Easter is on April Fool’s Day. Of course for me these holidays are not all that important, however I find it interesting that Ash Wednesday, the day we are to focus on our own mortality is also going to be the day we celebrate love. Maybe there is something to this.
Valentine’s Day is the day we remember Saint Valentine who was beheaded on February 14 in 269. The reason for this was his disobedience to Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor outlawed marriage for young men so they would serve in the military. Saint Valentine would marry couples in secret. Valentine is the patron saint of love, marriage, and beekeeping, among other things. One of his symbols is a bird. Maybe this is why when we explain love we talk about the “birds and the bees.”
Pressing on, Lent is a season of focusing on our discipleship toward Jesus. During this season we fast and reflect on what hinders us from maturing in our faith. What we sometimes do not notice is that maturing in our faith stems from our LOVE toward God. Only true fidelity and love can cause us to take up our cross for Christ. Only a true love for God would cause us to decide to give up our own lives for the sake of others.
On Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent we are faced with our own mortality and something so precious as our lives is truly what we can give to show our love for God. So maybe Lent beginning on Valentine’s Day is not such a bad thing after all. We fast and give up things during Lent so we can identify what Christ gave up for us out of His deep compassionate love. We deepen our love for Christ during this season. Maybe this year as you celebrate your love for that someone special, put Jesus into your celebration of love.
What are you going to fast this year during Lent? I have decided to give up breads. I have never done this, however I believe it will be a good fast for me. The point of fasting is to give up something that is a part of your daily lives. Remember fasting does not have to be just food. You can fast anything that takes up time in your lives. Of course whatever you fast you do not ignore the time or fill it with something else. Whatever you fast must have a direct connection to deepening your faith. For instance if you fast a meal every day, take the money you would have spent and add it to your tithe and offerings. If you give up TV for a set time every day, take the time in prayer. Your fast should have a reflection of God’s love toward others. This is truly what fasting is about. Giving up something so that you can reflect God’s love toward others, as Christ gave us His life as a reflection of His love for us.
Love in Christ through the Holy Spirit
Rev. Rusty L. Husted