As far back as I can remember I never had ashes on my head on Ash Wednesday. As such I also never pigged out or participated in Fat Tuesday. There have been a couple of times I have tried to give up something for lent. As for Valentine’s Day, I have never actually celebrated the day with someone in a romantic sense but I have participated and even been nostalgic on February 14th. In the Anglican Church Valentine’s Day is a feast day which I imagine would make things complicated if you were an Anglican participating in lent because you would choose between fast or feast or make a hybrid.
The thing that strikes a chord in my mind during these 3 holidays or “holy days,” however you choose to look at them is how I approach them. For the most part I’m pretty nonchalant about all of them. But I think the greater danger is in the misappropriation of their intent and how in being nonchalant we miss out. I think these 3 holidays make it easy to take for granted Jesus and His love. Typically my mind associates Fat Tuesday with the storm before the calm. Indulge; so on Wednesday we repent and look somber and walk around with ashes. I realize I do this every time I willfully indulge my lusts (minus the ashes) so for me Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday is more of a monthly thing rather than a once a year thing.
Then there is Valentine’s Day and as one blog I read put it, “we use Valentine’s Day as a day to test love” and measure others love by what they do for us. I make it about me, my nostalgia what I have or am missing and typically fail to think about giving out of overflow. I did that one year and it was beneficial. Then there was another year I gave a girl a pink bible to win her over and that failed and I was offended. Now I don’t think I was hoping the bible would win her over. However, it serves as an illustration of how we use traditions/perceptions of humans and there displays of love and their associciation with God as our hope of absolution and acceptance. Typically human engineered love comes up empty or the at the very least falls way short of God’s.
My hope today is that in a struggle against all desires of the flesh and by loving God back, what is actually being measured is the height width depth and length of His love, not how long a cycle of sin and repentance is, not how long we’ve been single or married or how many Valentine’s Day our efforts at love fell short or how many times in a lifetime 3 quasi-holidays fall in the same week. Lord, may my measurement on Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Thursday, through Good Friday and beyond be: Your love and forgiveness far exceeds mine or anyone else’s on any given day. Thanks
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.