Discover deeper love

Discover deeper love

This past week, something occurred that will only happen three times this century: Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fell on the same day. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and generosity that ends at sundown on Maundy Thursday. Valentine’s Day is, of course, that made-up holiday intended to sell cards, candy, and flowers to the guys who’ve done a lousy job showing their love the rest of the year. (Did my personal bias peek out there?)

The mood of the two could not be more different. Valentine’s Day is red and pink and frilly and lovely and bubbly. Ash Wednesday is literally commemorated by the observant making a sign of the cross on the forehead with the ashes of burnt palm fronds. V-Day is light and fun and frivolous. Ash Wednesday is somber and serious.

Yet at the heart of it all is the same human longing: love. The desire to be known and loved by those who matter most to us. And the expression of that love as found in the silliness of Valentine’s Day—which I am now done poking fun at—is actually a reflection of the deeper, originating love represented by the season of Lent.

“God so loved the world.” Have you ever thought about that little word, “so?” The verse would work just fine without it. “God loved the world and sent his son…” But the Greek emphasizes it. “God SO loved the world. God loved the world SO much.” An overflowing, extravagant love that expressed itself in the greatest gift ever offered: the gift of God’s own son.

I love my wife SO much. Not just a little. I really, really love her. I WANT to find ways to express that love. I look for ways to express that love. Special times, special trips, special events, special words, special gifts and, yes, special cards and flowers (and See’s Nuts & Chews!) She deserves the effort.

God’s incredible love deserves a response, too. Special times (Lent), special events (Maundy Thursday, Easter), special words (focused vigils of prayer and worship), and so on. So, my snideness aside, it seems fitting that a day devoted to love should fall on the start of a season devoted to the GREATEST of love.

I urge you to set yourself to something extra special this Lent as an expression of your love for the God who so loved you!

Pastor Mark

P.S. – You know, there was never a time in Jesus’ ministry when he was not aligned with his Father’s will. He spoke what his Father told him to say, he did what his Father told him to do. A perfect alignment of wills…until it wasn’t. This Sunday, February 18, we are going to look at the moment when Jesus said, “Dad…I really don’t want to do what you want me to do.” If you’ve ever been there…and struggled with the emotions that instinct produced, you won’t want to miss this Sunday’s message.