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Spread the Love!

Spread the Love!

by Rev. Alexandra Robinson on February 14, 2024

Reading: Joel 2:1-2,12-17

What a beautiful opportunity for Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday to fall on the same day!  This morning, we had the opportunity to offer ashes to our preschool families as they walked into the doors of the church  for their Valentines Day classroom celebrations.  So many children were adorned in their party attire covered in red, pink and white hearts.  Carrying gifts of flowers and chocolate for teachers, you could see the excitement in their faces for the day ahead, giving and receiving valentines.  As the teachers set up party tables, balloons and activities, the room began to evolve into a festival atmosphere of love.  When each family walked in we held out a “God Loves You” sticker and wished them a big “Happy Valentines Day!”  And as they took the sticker we had the opportunity to tell them how much God loved them.  We offered ashes to anyone, and most of the time, the children were reticent until their parents participated. One of my favorite moments was when, seeing the ashes upon his mother’s forehead, a little boy took his “God Loves You” sticker and put it on his forehead too!  There is no better witness I can think of to express the meaning behind Ash Wednesday.  Today, each of us profess how we are named and claimed by God’s love – for all to see!  What a blessing to begin our season of Lent with this assurance!  

During the next 40 days, we will be studying the words of the prophets and inviting us into a season of listening to their call of repentance and change.  From Isaiah to Malachi, we will hear their encouragement to name our sins and turn toward God in new relationship.  Sometimes we like to avoid thinking about our sins and confessing them before God because we worry it can lead us into a spiral of shame.  But the word “repent” actually means – to turn around.   So I pray this Lent, you will experience repentance as 40 days of realizing your need to turn around, and the assurance that when you do - God’s arms of love will be open to you.  Because today you have been marked as one who has been named and claimed by that love – with the sign of the cross.  As you wear that sign of the cross, may it stick with you for the next 40 days that the purpose of the prophets is so we each can live fully into being named and claimed by God’s love.

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