Its’ February and love is in the air. The tradition of Valentines cards began in the 18th century when lovers sent them, or gifts of sweets, to show their affection, but the linking of Valentine with romantic love goes back further, to Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1300’s. But, interestingly, before Chaucer Valentine was not connected with romantic love at all.
So who was St. Valentine?
Well as with many early church figures, the facts are sparse. We can be reasonably sure that he was a priest in Rome before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. He was martyred, that is killed for his faith in Christ, and the site of his martyrdom became a place of pilgrimage. His life was seen as an example to follow as Christians lived in an environment hostile to their faith.
But what sort of example? Well, an example that faith in Christ, following Jesus was more valuable than any threats to life or liberty. That the love of God for his people, including Valentine, including you and me, well this love is something to hold on to whatever threats and suffering may come your way.
This love, not a romantic feeling but a love that is unconditional, that loves you as you are, well that love will bring you comfort and strength and the desire to persevere. Because if God says you are worth loving, maybe you are.
So as Valentines Day comes and goes for another year, whether you receive gifts or cards and chocolates or not – remember God loves you, and not for just one day a year.