St Peter & St Paul
South Petherton, with the Seavingtons
and the Lambrooks
The Rector’s Letter for February
There is a point of intersection in February’s calendar not experienced since 1945, which you may or may not have spotted... This year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday occur on the same day. I wonder if you had noticed this and what this might mean to you?
It could be said that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are poles apart. The seemingly sombre and reflective beginning to the season of Lent and the commercialised celebration of romance might seem to have little to say to each other. Moderation and excess don’t appear to play the same game.
If we listen more carefully, however, and pay attention to the deeper chords being sounded, we might find a harmony. On the surface Valentine’s Day might seem to proclaim cards, chocolates and inflated dining bills. But it also contains within its lived experience: symbolising the unspoken or unspeakable, fear-filled declarations, temptation, recognizing present gifts, naming of future hopes and – for many – confronting loneliness, even mortality.
Lent, too, has a ‘surface’ language of ‘giving things up’ (which many do, for varying reasons). But we might hear too through its journey: symbolising the unspoken or unspeakable, fear-filled declarations, temptation, recognizing present gifts, naming of future hopes and – for many – confronting mortality, even loneliness.
Both Valentine’s day and Ash Wednesday speak (or strain to speak) a language of the human heart. A language of human frailty. A language of human hope. Both perhaps find imperfect expressions through excess of spending or excess of piety, but both dates speak to the deep reality of human life – human life in which God takes a very (very) personal interest. It is when we speak of God and human life that we come face to face with Jesus and through the Lenten journey we see much of Jesus’ human face. A human face in which the divine embraces our humanity.
Perhaps this combined date might present a great opportunity for posing some honest, life-filled questions of ourselves, to propel us into a well-begun Lent (please note that I am resisting with every fibre of good-taste, puns about ‘dates’ with Jesus....).
How will you begin your Lent on this rare, intersecting, day? What needs does it speak to in you? Where does the God who knows our humanity inside-out speak from and to?
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