Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Together is a good place to be!

By Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman

Ash Wednesday 2024As those of you who pay attention to the liturgical calendar may have noticed, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s day fall on the same day this year. It’s not an unheard-of coincidence – a quick glance through my file of bulletins revealed that it happened in 2018 too. But a quick Google search revealed that the last time it happened before that was 1945. It’s not a regular occurrence, and it does sound a bit, well, odd. Whether you find Valentine’s Day to be a somewhat silly, but essentially harmless celebration created and sustained to encourage spending, or a sweet opportunity to express how much you care about all your beloved ones, the two observances do seem to clash.  

Roses and chocolate soufflé, or a reminder that “you came from dust and to dust you shall return.” If I had to choose just one, I’m pretty sure I’d go for the chocolate on the grounds that what the world needs right now is more love, not more reminders of death.

But then I remember the tender holiness of Ash Wednesday and the goal of the whole season of Lent: to help us be “right-sized.”  To remember how small we are in the vastness of things, and instead of letting that thought overwhelm or deflate us, allow it to set us free for wonder, love and awe.  

To be right-sized is to be invited to let go of all the fear and selfishness that hamper our participation in life. To be set free from self-consciousness and self-doubt -- free for service and joy.

So bring on the ashes and the whole Lenten season and let the love flow.