It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
By calendrical coincidence, it’s also Valentine’s Day. This day is filled with Cupid shooting arrows; with gifts of flowers and chocolate; and with the giving of cards decorated with hearts and kisses. It’s a fun day that celebrates romantic love.
Romantic love is a powerful force. Yet it pales in comparison to the love to which Ash Wednesday points: the passionate commitment of God to a wayward world. This divine love is not rooted in feeling good, but in dedicated service and sacrifice for the well-being of the beloved.
God puts this love into action again and again. God is ever at work, giving us new beginnings. That is the witness of Scripture, including the Gospel according to Mark. Mark will be our companion this Lent, inspiring us to grow more deeply into the gifts of God.
God of beginnings: You awaken us each day to new adventures in life, lifting us from sleep so that we might walk anew with you. As we start our Lenten journey, give us eyes to see the wonder that is around us; give us hands that offer compassion those we meet; and give us hearts that are open to the generosity of your grace. This we ask in your Son’s name, and by the power of his life-giving Spirit. Amen.