Although historians dispute the validity of the story today, tradition tells us that there was a man called Valentine of Rome. The story goes that he assisted Christian’s who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius II by marrying Christian couples and helping them to escape the persecution that was taking place under the emperor. There are varying stories told as to why he was eventually martyred. Some say that he was friends with Claudius and tried to convert him. Some say Claudius tried to force him to deny Christ and he refused. Either way, tradition says he was killed on February 14, 269 because of his committed faith and love for Jesus Christ.
So fast-forward many years to today and some of you are panicking trying to get your plans together for tonight. Some of you are brave enough (maybe foolish enough?) to go out to a restaurant tonight. I’ve made that mistake before and never will again. We switched our tradition early on in marriage to cooking at home, usually grilling steaks. However, there are still many of you making plans, buying chocolates, flowers, or whatever else it is that you like to buy and do to show appreciation to the one you love. And, some of you are trying to ignore the day altogether and pretend it doesn’t exist. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day, I want to give a quick reminder of the One who loves us.
I was very intentional with that last sentence. I think it is important to make the distinction that we live under God’s love. Yes, we love him, but I don’t want us to miss that it is really about his love for us. We are a people loved by God. We live in a world loved by God. Because of that, he has come into the middle of it and created a new order. The old order of death, decay, and disease is passing away and a new one is unfolding in our midst. It all started when the Father sent the Son who inaugurated a new age. It is the age of God’s rule and reign and it is slowly moving about and progressing in our world. It has small beginnings like a mustard seed, but it has always created big reactions like the martyring of Saint Valentine, because it is doing away with the powers and authorities of the old age. Even with all of that, the most important thing is its catalyst has always been the love of the Triune God.
So, enjoy your Valentine’s Day. Whether you are with the one you love, lost the one you love, or have no significant other, Valentine’s Day should be a special day of remembering the love of a God who relentlessly pursues us. The love of a God who refuses to leave the world and its people the way we are. As you go about your day either immersed in the world of chocolate and roses or hiding from that world, don’t forget how deeply the Creator loves you and the world he made. Yes, we love God, but it is his love for us that makes all the difference. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.