Dear Fremont Family:

Today is a day when the church is incongruous with the world. While the world is drenched in expressions of romantic love complete with chocolate, roses and balloons, the church universal gathers to smear ashes on our foreheads and to “remember that we are dust and to dust we will return.” No wonder the crowds prefer Valentine’s Day to Ash Wednesday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Valentine’s Day. Mostly, as Charlie will tell you, because I cherish every holiday that centers candy. If there is an excuse for purchasing processed sugar, then I will take it! But, I also deeply love Ash Wednesday. Not all is well in our world and in our souls, and there is so little room to sit in stillness with ourselves, with our mortality, and with the harm that we have done in the world. Centering our mortality by naming both our limited days and our rebellion from God’s purposes is, frankly, just plain honest. How refreshing! My mother was alive last Ash Wednesday, and now she is not. Truth be told, we do not have forever, and God is always wooing us to return to God’s love and ways.

In that way, it’s a perfect confluence that Ash Wednesday lines up with Valentine’s Day this year. These two occasions both celebrate love. But, one celebrates imperfect love with consumption, indulgence, romance and myth, while the other celebrates unconditional love in community, simplicity and humility. Ash Wednesday brings us into the presence of each other and the One who knows us exactly as we are, fragile, broken, and hungry for affection and affirmation, and loves us anyway through the power of the cross.

I do hope I see you tonight. We will celebrate Ash Wednesday at 7pm in the sanctuary (no ZOOM option).

See you there.

Grace and peace,