It is February, the “love” month. The stores have been full of Valentine’s and heart shaped candy since the end of December and the Hallmark cable television channel will soon be running their annual series of “romance” movies. As a boy I always enjoyed the Valentine’s Day party we would have in our classrooms, sharing Valentines with the entire class, having cupcakes with special white, red, or pink frosting, and the annual coronation of the Valentine’s Day King and Queen. I actually was king one year and wore a special crown of cardboard hearts and aluminum foil! Another year my self-decorated Valentine’s box won first prize in our class competition. It was such a masterpiece.
So how did all this celebration get started? Scholars say that some of the traditions of present day Valentine’s Day come from pre-Christian Rome when February 14 was celebrated as a special day for lovers struck by Cupid’s arrows, and because it was around that time that birds began to choose their mates for the coming spring. The day came to be called St. Valentine’s Day because supposedly on February 14, AD269 a Christian priest named Valentine (or Valentinius) was martyred. He had been secretly performing Christian marriages against the decree of Emperor Claudius II. While in prison, Valentine healed the jailer’s daughter of blindness and on the day before his execution sent a farewell note to the daughter and signed it “From your Valentine.” How much of this is truth and how much is legend we do not know. But it is nice to have a time to think about love, particularly for us as Christians, to think about God’s (agape) love. The Apostle John writes magnificently about agape love in 1John 4: 7-11:
“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.
This dear friends is not a legend or a tradition. This is the glorious truth.
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