Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2018
Is: 58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is.58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Would you believe that Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year? We always attend Ash Wednesday services and allow the pastor to mark the brow with the shape of the cross—ashes used from last year’s Palm Sunday leaves, properly burned and stored. Usually the sermon or instruction would bid each of us to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return.
I have struggled some with this activity, because in another place the Gospel writer quotes Jesus as saying, “When you fast wash your face and do not look dismal”—or as a friend might add, “Well, it is a good thing to fast and all of that, but don’t put on a show in public.”
I say if the ashes on the brow mean that one has decided to go with Isaiah 58, then wear the mark proudly and publicly. Working for justice must be a public act and the sign of the cross on the brow can then be seen as invitation to others to go public for justice as well as mercy.
Each Ash Wednesday, following the service, Jan and I join with another couple and meet at a special pizza place. We eat and drink and catch up on the kids and discuss stuff. This year we will also give a bid to Saint Valentine, who is reported to have been a friend of the unjustly treated. Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century connected the day with romantic love—this was followed by lovers giving flowers, confectionery, and sending greetings. (Hallmark must be everlastingly grateful to Chaucer). So this year there will be time for friends, love, justice AND