Column: Rare day for the Church

The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
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A rare alignment takes place this Valentine’s Day.

The last time it happened was 1945; Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday (marking the start of Lent) being the same day that is.

There are going to be two more times this century, very close together in 2024 and 2029 and then the wait will be more than 100 years until it happens again in 2170.

I was at a Parochial Church Council, or PCC, meeting the other day (PCCs are the groups running your local parish churches) and said to show my love to my wife this year that perhaps I needed to ‘say it with ashes’.

The vicar then wondered whether it would be apt to put an ashes heart on people’s foreheads.

My proposal (the romantic language of Valentine’s day is affecting everything) is that this Lent we should embrace both dynamics.

Valentine’s Day is a day when we declare our love, we make ourselves vulnerable, we (hopefully) receive love in return and we seek to be a better person for someone else.

Lent is, by its nature, a time for turning away from our sins; of evaluating our lives and allowing God to change them.

Of being disciplined and deliberate in our response to our God. They are not as far apart as we might think at first glance.

Obviously, we shouldn’t limit our love for our beloved simply to Valentine’s Day.

Nor should we limit our being aware of our shortcomings, the need of forgiveness and our need to both repent and change to just one day or just to Lent.

Love, and being prepared to be changed by it, and by God, is central to daily lives for Christians.

So, I hope you have a love-filled Lent. At the same time I pray you realise God is not an anonymous suitor who only brings you roses.

I pray you get closer to Jesus who knows you by name and gives totally of himself to death, even death on the cross and by it gives you life in its full abundance.

This Lent have a lovely time and by the time we reach Easter I pray that your life has been transformed.