A Note from Karen Pulley
I know that Valentine's Day 2017 has past - for some it is a beautiful day, filled with chocolates and flowers and reminders of how loved they are. For others, Valentine's Day may have seemed cruel, reminding them of love lost or love that never was. For still others, an ambivalence marks the day - Valentine's Day to them is just like any other day.
But then I came across this true story that made me consider the true meaning of Valentine's Day.
In the third century the Roman empire was being invaded by Goths. At the same time, the plague of Cyprian, believed to be smallpox, broke out, killing so many people that the Roman army was depleted of soldiers. Needing more soldiers to fight the enemy and believing that soldiers would fight better if they were not married, Emperor Claudius II banned traditional marriage in the military. Meanwhile, Christians living under Roman rule were given a brutal choice - worship Roman gods or die. During the first three centuries of Christianity, there were 10 major persecutions during which the government threw Christians to the lions, boiled them alive, crucified them, and much more.
It was around this time that Saint Valentine was a priest or bishop in Italy. Because records were destroyed, little is known about his life, but it is believed that Valentine risked the emperor's wrath by standing up for traditional marriage and secretly marrying soldiers to their young brides. When the Emperor Claudius demanded Christians not to follow their conscience and to worship pagan idols, Saint Valentine refused. He was arrested and condemned to
While imprisoned, Valentine's jailer asked Valentine to pray for his blind daughter. When she miraculously regained her sight, the jailer, along with many others, converted to Christianity. Right before his execution, Saint Valentine wrote a note to the jailer's daughter, and signed it "your Valentine" and the tradition of sending valentines was born. He died on February 14, and to this day February 14th is associated with courtly love. English traditions of presenting flowers, offering confectionaries, and sending Valentine greetings is still carried out today.
Saint Valentine embodied the verse, "greater love has no man than this then he lay it down for his friend" (John 15:13). Saint Valentine's heroic loving example still inspires believers to follow the Scripture's mandate to "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44).
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not Parrish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
There was a little boy who was always being picked on at school. Valentine's Day was coming up and he wanted to make sure he gave a valentine to all the kids in his class. His mother was a little disturbed by this, as she knew her son wouldn't be getting any valentines. But he insisted. So his mother helped him as he busily worked on getting the names of all the kids in the class. As he went off to school the mother was heavy hearted. She made him his favorite cookies to have ready for him when he came home from a disappointing day. She waited anxiously at the door watching for her son to have a sad look on his face, but instead he was smiling and joyfully skipping along as he arrived home. His mother asked Chad, "Did you get a valentine?" He said, "No, but I didn't miss a kid!"
Wow now that is unselfish love!
"While we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Listen to the words of an amazing song by Fredrick Lehman:
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.
When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God's love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race—
The saints' and angels' song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails," (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
We would see Jesus,