Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th this year, making for an awkward double date with Valentine's Day. I'll need to think creatively about how to incorporate a romantic 'meal for two' in a day full of services, ash-smeared foreheads and the beginnings of a Lenten fast!

Domestic considerations aside, it may not be such an unfortunate clash for it serves to emphasise an aspect of Ash Wednesday and Lent that is easily overlooked when considering all the things we might give up.

This is the theme of love. The ultimate purpose behind anything we take on or give up in Lent should be to increase our love. This should include the love we have, and show, to our nearest and dearest. But it should also extend to love of neighbour and love of God.

So I hope the double date prompts us to not just think about romantic expressions of love but also the things that might help us grow in love for neighbour and God. Perhaps there's something you can do for those who live nearby or a local charity. Perhaps you could set aside a bit of time each day for spiritual reading and reflection.

I can recommend a good app called Reflections for Daily Prayer which provides a short reading and 'thought for the day' on your phone. Or a wonderful book called The Splash of Words by Mark Oakley, providing brilliant reflections on a fascinating selection of poetry.

I can also commend our Lent Discussion Groups based on Art and the Bible. Each session will focus on a work of art from the National Gallery depicting an episode from the life of Christ. This then prompts us to go deeper into the Bible story and reflect on our own relationship with God. There are morning and evening groups on different days of the week all offering the same 5 week course.

If none of these suit, then might you still ask yourself the question: what can I take on or give up that would help me increase my capacity to love?

Finally, there's another awkward double date on the horizon: Easter Day falls on April 1st. This could lead to all sorts of practical jokes about service times and bogus egg hunts!

Best wishes,

Joe Moffat