Amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas, the tinsel, the sparkle and the mince pies, our vicar, Peter, asked me to write a piece for this month’s Messenger. Of course I said yes and promised myself I would work on it just into the New Year hence me sitting on a damp and dark January evening struggling to find an interesting enough topic to write about.
One huge word springs to mind… BREXIT but to me that word conjures up indecision, division and complete disregard for togetherness. I thought about all the reasons we have to celebrate this year, all the special days we will share as a community in our church or as families in our own homes.
Being a fairly newly married man the next important day on my calendar is Valentine’s Day. The feast day of St Valentine is a celebration of love and affection. St Valentine was born in the third century AD and he was executed on 14 February by Emperor Claudius II in Rome.
In pagan times February was the time of year for fertility rituals and the Roman festival of spring and pairing off of women to men. According to legend, St Valentine sent to his jailer’s daughter who he had befriended, and by some accounts healed from blindness, a letter signed “from your Valentine”.
In Roman times only single men would be called to war so St Valentine, who was a priest, secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love. However, many years later it was the poet Chaucer who linked St Valentine to romantic love.
Since the 1500’s formal messages of love have been sent and by the late 1700’s commercially printed cards have been used. In the Philippines the 14th of February is the most common wedding anniversary with mass weddings of hundreds of couples not uncommon on that date. The Welsh have their own version of St Valentine called St Dwynwen, and her feast day is celebrated on 25th January.
Whilst St Valentine’s day is a good opportunity to remind those close to us of how much we care, we need to remember that as Christians and followers of Jesus that every day is an opportunity to show love to all whose lives we touch. We live in a society very quick to marginalise and discriminate. We have families within our community dependent on foodbanks.
In the news this week we have heard of schools opening during Christmas holidays to ensure that children were fed – this is love. We heard of the Foodbank in Oldham being ransacked – people from across the UK and other parts of the world have rallied to re-fill the shelves making sure families don’t go without – this is love.
God gave his only son into this world, sacrificing him so that we would be free – this is love. In the gospel of John 4:19 we are told “We love because He first loved us”. May the love of our Lord always be with us and as we draw close to February, the month associated with love, may our hearts be filled with the desire to share God’s love so freely given to us all.
Every blessing, Adrian and family.
(This article by Adrian was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in February 2019)