I can’t believe that it is February already. Traditionally, in our culture, February is the month that we celebrate love. Right in the middle of the month, on the 14th we celebrate (Saint) Valentines Day. So, who was this person and why do we celebrate his day with hearts and flowers? Well, legend has it that St. Valentine was a priest in Italy who was martyred on February 14, 269 AD by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for evangelizing, baptizing and marrying Christians. In 496 AD the Pope declared him a saint and his feast day was set to February 14. Beyond this, little is known, and even this as I said, is all part of a legend. If you dig a bit deeper, you discover that there were multiple men named Valentine who were martyred over the years and perhaps each gave a piece to the legend. It is thought that medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as a day of celebrating love as no record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375. In this poem, Chaucer spoke of February 14th as being the day that birds (and humans) begin to court a mate. The day developed from there and became what we celebrate today – a Christian (Catholic) saint’s feast day that has become a secular day for the celebrating of romantic love. The celebration of this day can be fun. I remember the exchange of “Valentine’s cards” in elementary school, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, and a lot of pink and red decorations. Even after “growing up” and becoming an adult, it is still fun to do something special to celebrate this day. (Flowers, cards, often a nice dinner somewhere) But, because of how we idolize and define love in our culture, Valentine’s Day can be painful for many: It can be a day when those who have lost someone they love feel the grief and pain of the loss all over again. It can drive home to someone just how lonely they are. It can be a day of disappointments if a card does not arrive (or these days a text…) proclaiming love. This February I would like to offer a new and different way of looking at Valentine’s Day by looking to scripture, rather than to popular culture, to define love. I would like to leave you with the words of Paul from his first letter to the Corinthians. I encourage you to read this passage over a few times and then to decide for yourself how to live as one who loves and then use them as a guide for living a life grounded in love. The Gift of Love 1 Corinthians 13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Blessings Pastor Rhonda