For those who don’t read the comments this was a comment after the Ash Wednesday blog
My eleven year old granddaughter, Carissa, and I made a run to the General Dollar Store after Ash Wednesday services to get some items for the valentine bags we were making for the homeless women and teen girls in the Bismarck/Mandan area. As we were waiting our turn at the counter, the cashier asked us about the ash crosses on our foreheads. The gal in front of us did not have hers on any more but she and I were given the opportunity to speak about the importance of Ash Wednesday, leading up to what Easter is for us. I did not know the other lady, in her early 20’s. What a wonderful opportunity to share with the cashier and for the others in line after us. It was a good conversation piece for Carissa and I as I drove her home. A seed was planted and I will remember this cashier in my prayers. Thanks be to God.
I have been writing and ranting that this world has changed so drastically and not for the better that we Christians need to have a radical reappraisal of all we do. Preachers can’t just toss out words like justification and redemption and expect anyone to understand. Folks in their vocations cannot assume that everyone they have contact with is a church goer, in fact I believe that we need to believe the opposite. St. Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:15 are really going to be important to us…..But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect”. The gentleness and respect part is hard for me. I don’t care, as some movie script said, for “inexactitude and shallowness”. How can any educated person on this planet regardless of their belief system not know about Ash Wednesday is my feeling but my brain tells me it’s pretty easy to go through this world and never hear about the religious significance of anything. My response to the question about ashes in the form of a cross would have probably included something like “are you naturally stupid or are you trying to be obtuse”, but that is not gentle or respectful.
The witnessing scene spelled out above could have been a twofer – explain the ashes and the valentines. People today don’t get that either. For many of us in vocation our witness will be one of presence explaining presents because most of our religious observances have been boiled down to a Hallmark Greeting card day.
So it you want to witness with respect and gentleness you might want to read about Valentines Day. This from Wikipedia – St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church.[