Fig Tree Logo
Sounding Board

Bishop likens Ash Wednesday, Valentine's love

Bishop Gretchen Rehberg

Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day were the same day this year. It is an interesting juxtaposition. One congregation invited members to write "valentine's cards to God."

We have turned Valentine's Day into a day that celebrates romantic love but forgets all the other types of love that exist, and especially forgets that all love stems first from God's love.

God's love is always merciful, full of compassion and loving kindness. It is only if we believe that forgiveness and repentance have nothing to do with love that we will believe we cannot celebrate both Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day. Anyone who has ever been in a true relationship will remind all of us that repentance and forgiveness are an integral part of love!

For years I always tried to schedule my yearly physical, eye check-up, and a teeth cleaning during Lent. It was one way I showed "self-examination and repentance" as well as offering love to myself.

To take the time to take care of our own health, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, is a way of offering ourselves love.

Our beloved Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reminds us to "love God, love your neighbor, and while you are at it, love yourself."

To love yourself in this way is not narcissistic, but in fact right and proper. We are told by Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Lent is often a time when we are invited to fast. Fasting is a good discipline, and it takes various forms, such as forgoing all food or particular types of food.

We can also fast from anything that gets in the way of love. We can fast from anything that gets in the way of our loving God, loving our neighbor or loving ourselves. So for some people that might be food or drink. It might be social media, gossip, judging others, holding a grudge or the negative thoughts that run through our heads about our own self-worth.

What do you need to fast from in order to grow in love?

May this time of Lent be a time we can grow in love, love of God, love of neighbor and love for ourselves. 

Bishop Gretchen Rehberg
Episcopal Diocese of Spokane

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March 2024