TITLE: Your Valentine
DATE: February 12, 2019
TEXT: Leviticus 19:17-18 | ESV |- You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Well, this week we are celebrating Valentine's Day.
For many people that means cupids, cards and candies. It should be more.
In the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Saudi Arabia the 'decadent' Christian holiday of love is forbidden. The giving of roses, the sharing of candies in heart-shaped boxes, associating with a member of the opposite sex who is not a relative ,are all crimes which can carry severe physical and financial punishments.
Of course those countries associate Valentine’ celebrations with physical love. If my reading of history is on the money, I think Valentine would be disappointed.
According to the ancient legends, and a legend is all I can say this is …
Valentine was a young Christian priest who lived in ancient Rome during the reign of Claudius II.
His was an age when young Roman men were not overly eager to leave home and hearth to fight in the emperor's unpopular, and seemingly unceasing wars. According to the tradition, the emperor placed a ban on marriage for all of Rome's young men. His opinion was, if his men didn't have a love connection to wife and family, they would more readily march away to distant lands.
Valentine felt sorry for the unhappy Christian men and their sweethearts, so he secretly and illegally performed a large number of Christian marriages. Eventually his compassion for these people placed him in prison.
Now outside Valentine's cell window was a cluster of violets. Valentine picked some of the heart-shaped leaves and painstakingly pierced them to spell the words, "Remember your Valentine loves you."
Then he would drop those leaves, carrying the reflected message of Jesus' love, to the streets below.
Valentine’s tradition ends with the Emperor ordering his execution. Ultimately, Valentine was put to death because of his faith in the Savior.
Valentine died knowing that in the Bethlehem manger, God, in the Person of His Son, our Savior, had sent humanity a message which says, “I love you.”
Valentine lived knowing that on the terrible cross of Calvary, as His Son carried our manifold sins, God sent a message which said, “I love you.”
At Resurrection Sunday's empty tomb, God sent a message of love which said not death or life, nothing in all creation, can separate us from the love of God which comes to us in Christ Jesus.
And this Valentine's week, God continues to send the message which says, “I love you.”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I rejoice in the Savior Who is Your message of love to a sinful and disobedient world. May His love shine brightly so all may know how much You care. This I ask in the Savior’s Name. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html