Summary: Red Roses for Ash Wednesday. A favorite note: : “Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have, always will.” These are also the words God has for us.

In Jesus Holy Name February 14, 2024

Ash Wednesday John 3:16 Redeemer

“Red Roses for Ash Wednesday”

In the month of February, you’ll experience holidays such as Valentine’s Day and US Presidents’ Day, and this year Ash Wednesday. This year more than 250 million red roses will be purchased and delivered. The red rose is the most popular symbol of romantic love. A favorite note often attached to the bouquet of red roses goes like this: “Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have, always will.”

These words are the same note God has sent us, visible in Jesus: “Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have, always will.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that who soever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

What a wonderful phrase. “He loved you yesterday, loves you still today, He always has and always will.”

This year Valentines Day coincides with Ash Wednesday. Did you know that there is a flower called the Lenten Rose. It is a perennial that blooms in the spring and has the color of a red rose and a similar shape.

We know that Ash Wednesday, begins the season of Lent. This year it coincides with Valentine’s Day! The two holidays needn’t be at odds with one another. We can celebrate the people we love while reflecting on the greatest love of all: that God loved us so much he died so that our broken commandments which separate us from God’s love would be removed. As the Psalmist wrote “As far as the east is from the west.”

Ash Wednesday is one of the most attended services in the Roman Catholic faith. People stand in long lines to receive the “mark” of ashes and forgiveness. In the church year calendar people think the obvious days of celebration are Easter and Christmas. Even the celebration of Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit –is high on every spiritual experience. But in many ways, Ash Wednesday gets even closer to the heart of the Christian gospel.

On Ash Wednesday we recognize our weaknesses before God in a way that we probably do not do on other days – we reflect that we are but a tiny part of God’s creation – a tiny and rather imperfect part.

As we reflect on our weaknesses, with ashes on or forehead, we do so with the knowledge that God is loving and merciful and always ready to accept us just as we are… And that however tiny and however imperfect we may be, God loves us with an incredible unbreakable love…

On Ash Wednesday we begin a journey through Lent in which we seek to build up our relationship with God. God created us, but we so often have failed to live as he wants us to live. In spite of this He still loves us, but when we repent and turn to Him for help and guidance, then He is ready to receive us with open arms, and ready to walk with us on every step of our journey of life….

The ancient custom of applying ashes, they said, reminds us of the wages of sin; that we are dust and to dust we will return. The ashes remind us that our sins need to be removed by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – serve as a reminder of the importance of spiritual growth and reflection. Through these practices, individuals can deepen their faith, strengthen their relationship with God, and live a more meaningful and purposeful life.

The Biblical writers are quite clear that all humanity is guilty of evil behavior, unacceptable to God. We know this to be true. Even in a civilized society we pass legislation to protect us from the evil actions of other human beings. Human beings can not be trusted to settle their own disputes with justice and without self interest. A promise is not enough…we need a contract. Doors are not enough. We lock and bolt them. Law and order are not enough, we need police to enforce them.

Psalm 14 laments the universal nature of human sin.

“They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds

there is none that do good.

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the

Children of men to see if any act wisely

And seek after God.

They have all gone astray. There is none that

Do good, no not one.”

We see the evil behavior displayed on our nightly news.

We saw the selfish anarchy from Settle to Washington DC.

In the 19th century a liberal optimism flourished. It was widely believed that human nature was fundamentally good and that evil behavior was caused by ignorance, bad housing and that education and social reform would enable men to live together in happiness and good will.

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