Notes from Pastor Jon Anderson

Genesis 3:19b-“You are dust, and to dust you shall return”

This is one of those strange years when two seemingly incompatible days collide. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. All around us, the stores are filled with pretty red flowers, heart-shaped cards and heart-shaped boxes of candy-but in the church there are no flowers, no treats-the mood is very somber-and foreheads are marked not with a heart with an arrow through it, but with a cross traced in ashes, accompanied by the solemn words printed above, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Can you imagine that verse imprinted on one of those little chalk-like valentine candies that we see this time of year? Is there a connection between these two radically different days on our calendar? This Ash Wednesday, as every Ash Wednesday, as mentioned earlier, a cross will be traced on the foreheads of the faithful in ashes, a sign of their frailty-your frailty-your utter dependence on God. The hearts we see everywhere every Valentine’s Day are a sign of love-and so is the cross that will be traced on foreheads. The cross reminds not only of our frailty and dependence on God, and not only of the necessity of the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, but also of God’s great love for us despite our sin. God loves you more than any person ever could-loves you so much that He gave Jesus to die for you and be raised for you. On Ash Wednesday, and throughout Lent, we remember Christ’s great act of love, as Christ said, in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” So it’s appropriate for us to observe Ash Wednesday even on Valentine’s Day, because on Ash Wednesday, we remember how much God loved us-how much God loves you-loves you so much He was willing to send Jesus to die to enable you to live with Him forever. May God’s peace be with you, throughout Lent and always.

Pastor Jon