LENT: Ash Wednesday

So this week is interesting to me because as I was reflecting and praying about what to bring to class…it occurred to me that this Wednesday is pretty significant. It is not only Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season when we start to prepare our hearts to remember the great sacrifice that redeemed us all, but it’s also Valentine’s day.

How interesting that these two occasions fall on the same day this year. I’ll tell you why I think that.

Many Christian religions observe Ash Wednesday. In my church, the priest places ashes on our forehead and usually says “Remember, O man, that your are dust and unto dust you shall return.” I always think of it as a bit of a wake-up call…like “hey, you’ve only got so much time here, examine what you’re doing in these next 40 days and see if you don’t need to make some changes.” When I was a kid, we gave up chocolate or gum to remind us of sacrifice. But as an adult, the Lenten season calls me to look a little more closely to who I am and what I’m doing to reflect Jesus’s love to others.

In Genesis 2:7 we are told the story of how man came to be, and it is maybe a reason why we hear the words “from dust and unto dust you shall return.”

“God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul.”

Hear that? With the BREATH of God, man became alive. It is still His breath that runs through us today and gives us life. His message, in turn give life to our breath when we spread His love.

Love is another word we hear all around on this Wednesday as Valentine’s day is all the buzz. I think it’s worth noting that in the very same chapter in Genesis as we hear of Man’s creation, we also hear about how God knew it wasn’t good for Man to be alone…how he needed a companion. And so God put Man into a deep sleep, took a rib from him and created woman.

“The man said, ‘finally! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.’” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. (Gen 2:23-25)

These two people…created to love, created in the image of God, created to care for each other are that first example of love between people.

I think Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love…commercials on TV would have you believe that it is a day to give jewelry or special gifts in a romantic relationship…but I remember being a kid and giving out valentines to every one in my class, not romantically, but because it was a gesture of love and kindness. And still, to this day, I like Valentine’s day because it is a day to spread those values to each other.

God’s original design was for Love. He created man and woman to love…then, sent Jesus to reiterate the message of loving each other.

Tonight I want to encourage you to breathe intentionally and note that God’s breath is what gave life. His intention for that life was to LOVE. So, as we were formed from dust, until we return to dust, let the life we have been given with His sacred breath be one filled with the example of His love as we spread love to each other.

Wrap it up:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is the promise of God’s love for us. This is the sacrifice that was made for us. This is what we prepare our hearts to remember in the next few weeks of Lent so that we know Whom and Why we love…because we were loved first.

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