What is love today?

14 Feb

This year, as you’ve probably heard 100 times already, Ash Wednesday falls on St. Valentine’s Day. While these two may seem at odds, to the theological church nerd’s among us, they line up quite beautifully.

Ash Wednesday is about God bringing us in closer to God’s heart and making us new. Forgiving us and creating in us clean and beautiful hearts.

I don’t really know what Valentine’s day is about in our culture anymore, but what if we took today, instead of filling it with heart-eye emojis to those we love, but rather, thinking about the ways in which those whom we love fill our hearts? What if we took today to forgive the things we’ve held on to about our friends, loved ones, and significant others, because today God makes us clean again?

It’s a weird intersection, but it’s also kind of perfect. What if we remember to whom we belong, and pour love out of that to those we care about, and also those whom we don’t know yet.

Below there is an amazing Ash Wednesday Prayer by Shawna Bowman, a pastor in Chicago.

Prayer For Ash Wednesday
Jesus was one of those strange mystics who always seemed to know
the need of the one standing in front of him
Lost, found, hungry, fed, afraid or joyful – one look and he just knew,
like a soul-reader,
who you are and what you’re lacking, or hoarding, or harboring.
As we embark on this Lenten journey let’s tell the truth about ourselves:
Some of us have more than we need.
If we have more than we need let us release the extra and the excess back into the world trusting our fullness will be enough.
Some of us are overwhelmed.
If we’re filled up so full we’re bursting let’s stop. Stop eating or drinking. Stop moving. Stop yessing every question and request. Just stop. Rest. Pray. Repeat.
Some of us have nothing left to give and nothing left to give up.
If we’re empty then let’s get fed, but let’s choose wisely, let’s fill ourselves on something that will sustain us. Bread sure, but how about deep and abiding love? How about a giant-ass spoonful of grace?
Some of us are lost.
If we’re lost and spiraling or buried under rubble then let’s put our arms around one another and lament.
Lament the lost and the left behind,
Lament the darkness,
Lament the dead and dying,
Lament at the borders and in the borderlands.
Let’s cry out for help and human connection and for the soul-reader to find us, to see us and to feed us too.
Some of us are found.
If we are standing on solid ground,
If we know who and whose we are,
If we have glimpses the beauty of the soul-reader’s wild and redeeming grace then we also know it’s not our own doing and we didn’t get here on our own.
We know the road can be hard and long
and we know we must reach forward and back to bring one another along
To pick one another up
To become soul-readers and rehumanizers ourselves,
So when we look into one another’s eyes and paint one another’s faces with ashes we will remember that we are both
fragile and resilient,
we are living and we are dying,
And in life and in death we all,
no matter who we are,
belong to God. Amen.

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