Ash Wednesday

Today is Valentine's Day, and it is an ancient celebration.  Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day in the year 496. Chaucer references Valentine's Day as a day of romance in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules.” And the oldest valentine that is still in existence was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415.

 

Today is also Ash Wednesday, and it is an ancient celebration. "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return" was said at the time of death in the 8th century.  About the year 1000, an Anglo-Saxon priest named Aelfric preached, “Let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.”  

 

Today we have the convergence of the ancient ritual of sending notes of love, and the ancient ritual of repenting with ash.  It's an occasion to celebrate both the love we give and receive to our friends and families, and the invitation to return to God. Our repentance - turning - is made possible by God's unwavering love for us. So I invite you to enter this year's Lenten theme:  A Season of Turning.  How might we turn towards love? Towards peace? Towards God? How might we turn away from what is harmful?  Unjust?  Exhausting? Join us for tonight's Ash Wednesday service as we celebrate both love, and the beginning of Lent!