Love in Lent

Our Rector Paul writes on his blog:

Now and again (actually very occasionally)Valentines Day falls on Ash Wednesday    This is one of those years and it got me thinking that, although at first glance the two may seem totally unrelated, actually Valentines Day can help us observe Lent in the right spirit.  

Valentine’s Day celebrates the love one person has for another and although this can range from a schoolboy crush to the mature love of a long married couple there is a common theme.   The ‘secret’ identity of the giver of the Valentine Card not only adds an air of mystery and excitement, but it also, if properly observed, means that it is offered expecting nothing in return.   At heart it is altruistic. 

We usually approach Lent as a season when we give things up, a time of sacrifice and penance as we walk with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem and his death for us.  It is in foregoing some of our normal habits and luxuries that we become more conscious of what he gave up for us and are reminded that being his disciple means taking up our own cross and following him.  We also become more oriented towards the needs of others and the injustices in the world, following Jesus’ example. This annual journey is an important time for us.

Speaking for myself though I know that I can become focused too much on what I am giving up and forget that Lent can be an expression of my love for Jesus and gratitude for what he has done for me.  Lent can also be a heightened time of intimacy and closeness to Jesus as we set aside time (often our most precious commodity) to just be with him, allow space in our heads and hearts to hear his voice and to notice the small subtle ways he may be present in our lives and circumstances.

Lent is about paying attention to what matters most, cutting back on the things that distract and disperse our loves and passions so that we discover a new freedom of simplicity that helps us reorient our heart.

At the centre of Psalm 51, often used in Lent are these words:  Create in me a pure heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

This is about keeping our love for God fresh and real.  The giving of an annual Valentines Card between a couple married for many years encourages us to find words that make explicit what is in the warp and woof of the day to day love we share.   Lent likewise allows us to express our love for God in ways that only he knows.  May this Lent be an intimate and tender opening of your heart to the One who loves you as you are but also loves you too much to leave you as you are.     A world awaits.

This post and more are available on Paul’s Blog, Stillpoint, at