Ash Wednesday...Love Lent, Love one another

As we fast track to February, with the red and green of Christmas, now fading into another memory; we enter the repentant and reflective season o fLent - and the celebrations of St Valentine's Day. A saint steeped in legend and mystery, but one who points us to a time of year that is full to the brim, of chocolate hearts, flowers and romance.

This year Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day, land together - on the same day. Valentine's Day can offer a great opportunity to encourage the affirmation of relationships with our loved ones, or even to win over the affections of a brand new love!

Ash Wednesday, the day after pancake day - ushers in the season of Lent.  A time for us to refocus our lives, our self-discipline, our prayers and our purpose in the world; and also reminds us to dig deeply into our hearts, for an even more generous offer of love and compassion towards others. Not just for the sweethearts and those dear to us - but for all those who need to know the love of their friends, their community and of God.

For many, whether they are Christians or not, the season of Lent us a 'testing' tradition. A time to face up to, or embrace, a personal challenge. Many people, whether they go to church, or not, come to the season of Lent...with a list of things to give up or take up - a fasting, a focus of prayer, or even a labour of love! Following something through for 40 days...until we can say 'it's finished'! I have done a new thing! I have given of myself! I have struggled, I have wrestled, I have loved, I have grown and I have changed!

On Valentine's Day, we celebrate the love we share in those special relationships with spouses, sweethearts, family and friends. Both Ash Wednesday and Lent, point us to the greatest act of love, when Jesus Christ gave up His life on the cross that we might be forgiven; our hearts transformed - and live a changed life and a full life, with God.

Whether you choose to observe one of these seasonal invitations, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Valentine's Day, or all three - you can surely celebrate the gift of love that is expressed - within them all.

You can remember and give thanks to God for the greatest gift of love in His Son, Jesus Christ, by loving thers as he loved...and as he loves you still, today.

Rev. Leisa