Valentine’s Day

 

My Dear Friends,

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and I confess that once again I found it, as a “holiday”, annoying! There’s just something insincere, orchestrated, and plastic to me about the cultural decree that on such and such a day Thou shalt declare your undying love with the purchase of cards, candy, and flowers (or pajamagrams, as the case may be)!

One does the drill however, lest one be banished to the doghouse for Valentine’s Day non-compliance. Yes, I bought the card and the appropriate gift (we neither need the candy) and I’m happy to announce I’m still sleeping inside. Yet another crisis averted on yet another made up holiday which must be obeyed!

You’re probably thinking what a hard-hearted old fart I am. So let me hasten to clarify. Though I find Valentine’s Day annoying as a “holiday”, I find it refreshing as a reminder and so it actually blesses me each year when I’ve had adequate time for reflection, like on the day after! I love being reminded of what love is, and of whom I love, and of who loves me, and of the joy of expressing that love.

What is love? Jesus says it is such regard for another human being that you’re willing to sacrifice for their benefit. “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” Though most people are oblivious of the fact, such sacrificial love is actually the basis for Valentine’s Day! Eric Neubauer, the Faith Formation Coordinator for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Plano, Texas, gives us the history in his excellent blog:

St. Valentine . . . was a temple priest – placed in prison during the reign of Claudius the Goth. Valentinus was not only marrying Christian couples but was aiding any Christian suffering persecution under Claudius’ reign. It is believed that Valentinus, while in jail for his defiance against the dictates of his emperor, came under the good graces of Claudius. This relationship ended when Valentinus tried to convert Claudius to Christianity and was condemned to death. One legend says that while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter and on the eve of his death penned a farewell note to her signing it, “From your Valentine.” Then tradition tells us that Valentinus was beaten with clubs, stoned and beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate in or around AD 269. Therefore, while we celebrate St. Valentine’s day – marked with gifts and goodies for love of person let us be reminded that this particular day was instituted because Valentinus had the resolve to stand up against unjust laws for love of Christ, Church and people. . .

When Valentinus laid his life down for love, he was only following in the train of the Lord he served who famously said, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again“ (John 3:16-18).

So Valentine’s Day reminds me that love is sacrifice and that God loves me sacrificially and so does my sweetheart Bev! So I go through this whole exercise of being reminded of love and feel pretty good about it and have to admit I never would have done it unless the annoying “holiday” had been thrust upon me. So begrudgingly I declare I had a good Valentine’s Day after all, and I hope you did, too. Yes they do! For me for the last 36 years they most certainly do! And she loves me back the same way and resonates with Shulamith in Song of Songs when she declares, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

I even got to sneak a piece of the Trail mix I bought for Bev (it‘s heck being diabetic!). All in all, a win-win situation if ever I saw one.

With Love “From your Valentine”,

Pastor Phil

 

P.S. Don’t forget “redefining love” this coming Sunday. We will have some candy for the kids, presents for each family and a wonderful time in worship of the one that loves us the most!

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