Sunday, February 12, 2017
A Question for Valentine's Day
PLANNING FOR A TRULY HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
You may have to bear with me today, it is going to be a roundabout journey to the point for this blog.
It’s kind of funny, isn’t it, that the name of this coming holiday is actually SAINT Valentine’s Day? It’s kind of like our Christmas friend, SAINT Nicholas. In all the hubbub of celebrating with our presents and flowers and decorations and so on, sometimes we forget that even today, we are experiencing the influence of Christian leaders from many years ago. While I don’t adhere to the same definition of the word “saint” that my Catholic friends often use, I do think it important to recall the source of some of these traditions…which is more than just the story of a man called, “Saint Valentine.”
You can find the story all over with a simple search on the internet, but the core is that a priest chose to defy the orders of the Caesar Claudius and provide Christian marriage for young men and women, for which he eventually lost his life. The man was a believer, i.e. a believer in Christ, and a believer in love. He chose to make those core beliefs more important than his earthly life, and thus we remember love in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
My question for you in preparation for Valentine’s Day, whether you are married, single, divorced or engaged, is to simply ask you to consider, what is it that caused this man to believe so strongly in love?
There have been through the years many poets and songwriters who extolled the virtues and wonders of love. There have been many who have sought to celebrate love, sometimes in ways that are not about real love at all. But none of those folks ended up having a holiday dedicated to love that was named after them. I think the difference is that Valentine knew the source of love, and that real love is not merely about a couple of human beings, but about the God who IS love, and who chose to create humans as male and female and then established marriage in the first place, blessing it with His love.
I have given Valentine’s cards since I was a child, as I suspect many of you have as well. We used to decorate boxes or cans and take them to school, where our classmates gave each other hokey little cards as we ate heart shaped cookies with LOTS of frosting. There was always a special one to give the teacher, often with a little present, and then, of course one for mom. As the years progressed, cards, flowers, candy or other gifts were given to sweethearts, then to my wife, and shared also with my children. It is all part of the celebration. But maybe we ought to be giving Valentine’s gifts to the One who loves us more than anyone else possibly could:
God showed His love by setting the example that Valentine followed…Jesus laid down His life for love. Love for you, and love for me; love that paid the penalty of our sin so that we could share in His love forever and ever. When we soak in the love of God, then loving others is a natural outcome of receiving His love. Our marriages can be in partnership not merely with our spouses, but with our Savior as well. The deeper we understand the nature of God’s love, the greater will be our celebration of love on Valentine’s Day and all year long.
So no matter what your status in terms of human relationships this Valentine’s Day, I invite you to prepare for the day by focusing first on deepening your appreciation and understanding of just how much God loves you. A good way to do that might be to spend some time in what I call the Bible’s “letter of love:--the little book of 1 John way back at the back of the Bible. It doesn’t take long to read, and it will remind you what true love really is.
Happy Valentine’s Day! To you, my reader, and to God, my Savior.