Feb. 14, 2024 is Ash Wednesday. It also just so happens to be Valentine’s Day.There’s a unique contrast between these two holidays. Valentine’s Day relates to excess: cheesy love songs, over-the-top romance, and elaborate gifts. On the other hand, Ash Wednesday focuses on moderation. It’s officially the start of Lent, when most people give up a vice for 40 days.
There is one point of connection between these two days – love. Valentine’s Day revolves around romantic love. And Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. That may not be the most theological explanation, but we can leave that stuff to the pastor.
So what is the church to do when one of our traditional Christian holidays falls on the same day as a flower-filled, Hallmark-driven, love-fest?
Well, this is actually a great opportunity to connect the two events.
• Instead of giving something up for Lent, give couples ideas of things they can start doing to improve their relationship.
• Post quotes about love on social media to let people know you care; then post a few verses of scripture referring back to Ash Wednesday.
• Reach out to lonely neighbors and friends – those who may not feel loved – and let them know that you care.
Ash Wednesday is an event some within the church know. For others it’s a tradition that’s at least vaguely familiar. However, it’s not something those outside the church know at all.
The fact that these holidays fall on the same day gives us the opportunity to explain a church tradition. We have the chance to spread God’s love on a wider scale.
Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent are about intentional sacrifice, giving something up so you can learn to better appreciate it. Encourage married couples to give up the extravagance of Valentine’s Day. Instead of romantic dinners, maybe they partake in a service project. Instead of flowers and gifts, maybe they donate to a charity they love.
Ash Wednesday last fell on February 14 in 2018. It will happen again in 2029, but then not again for the rest of this century.