|Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday 2018
Yesterday morning I had roses and chocolate berries delivered to my wife. That evening, I had to impose ashes on her forehead. At sunrise, I bid my early rising high school daughter a good day at school. As she returned home in the afternoon, a high school just south of us became the scene of yet another senseless school shooting. The 80’s rock song “Sweet Child of Mine” is still stuck in my mind, and so is the bitter irony that it was released by the group “Guns n’ Roses.”
Before the shooting, our noon Ash Wednesday service was “nice” as one person commented. After the evening service, a tearful worshiper said, “that was hard.” It was hard. The words “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return” are never easy to speak or to hear, but last night those words became as poignant as they have ever been for me. Thank God they are spoken only as the sign of the cross is given.
The image of a heart may be stamped on most Valentine’s Day cards, but the image of the cross stamped the forehead is the reminder of the greatest Valentine message of all, namely, that through Jesus we know that God loves us to death, in death, and even through death.
God, our creator, through whose providing care we enjoy all goodness and life, turn our eyes to your mercy in this time of confusion and loss. Comfort the community of Parkland and all of us as we mourn; shine your light on those whose only companion is darkness; and teach us all so to number our days that we may apply our hearts to your wisdom. Remind us that you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people, but in Jesus you bear that pain with all who suffer at others’ hands. With your cleansing love bring healing and strength to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and by your justice, lift them up, that in body, mind and spirit, they may again rejoice. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The Lord be with you, and especially with those for whom we pray,