Let me begin by wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. Even if I’ve never met you in person. You being here has helped me start my day, every day, for the last fifteen months.
I’m still trying to figure out if Quinn is going to school. He slept with me last night, and has been more clingy. I’m noticing that happens whenever I have oncology appointments or when I spend more time on the couch.He may be a nine year old boy, but he is dealing with some pretty big stuff for a tiny human.
We all are, actually.
For some, today is all about romantic dinners, flowers, cards, and love.
For some, it’s a painful day of broken promises relived, loved ones lost, and lonely nights that feel even lonelier.
Which is why I am so glad that it’s Ash Wednesday.
Hear me out…
I used to think it was weird to get black stuff smeared in your head. I would see people with the black smudge and want to wipe it off.
I didn’t realize how much it meant.
The ashes are so important. They are made from the palms from Palm Sunday the year before.
When we are babies and get baptized, we have the sign of the cross out onto our heads with water.
Water is invisible.
It’s an invisible branding that we belong to Jesus.
Today, millions of Christians will get a visible mark on their head to show everyone that they belong to Jesus.
Ashes are also a reminder of death. As God told Adam in Genesis, “Remember that you are of dust, and to dust you will return”.
Not that I need any more reminders of death, but I think some people need to remember that one day, their body will become dust again, and their soul will be in Heaven.
There was something I read that struck me this morning.
Jesus have a sermon where he spoke about secrets.
One had to do with alms giving. Don’t let your right hand know what the left hand is doing. Do good deeds, but don’t blurt it out so everyone can see what you did. That’s doing it for the fame, not the faith.
Fasting too. A little less food for you, maybe more for others. But do we complain about it, or do it in secret.
Prayer as well. Some people feel we are truly heard best in churches. Even Martin Luther prayed by a window to make sure God could hear him better.
But Jesus spoke of doing these in secret.
This is the selfie Snapchat generation!
Why do anything if others can’t see how good I am?
Thats like the old saying, “If a tree falls in the woods, does it still make a sound?”
But it’s near the end of Jesus’s sermon where it hits home.
“Your father, who sees in secret…”
The works are done in secret.
And the father sees in secret.
Which means, he sees you from wherever you are.
He is in the secret places of your soul, your mind, and your heart.
He sees it all, and rewards you with something that can’t be seen, like a secret.
With grace and mercy.
A promise of everlasting life.
So today, you may have public admirers on this Valentines Day.
Go ahead and love them deeply.
You may feel lonely.
Know you are loved deeply.
We all have a secret admirer who is the best kept secret that is shouted and praised and spoken about.
Today, we are all loved.
Happy Valentines Day.
Happy Ash Wednesday.
In Jesus’s name, amen.