As February rolls around, I wonder how social distancing may impact Valentines as it has on all the other holidays for the last year. As we plan on celebrating Valentines, I wondered about Valentine’s Day origin. So I decided I would try and find out. According to the History Channel, Valentines is a combination of both Christian and Roman tradition. There are three people considered as the namesake of the holiday who lived as Valentine or Valentinus. One legend tells that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When the Emperor Claudius II determined that single men made better soldiers than married men, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine did not agree with this idea, and he continued to perform private weddings. At the news of this, Claudius had him beheaded. Another story is similar only this Valentine was a bishop rather than a priest. Another legend is that Valentine attempted to help Christians who were imprisoned and persecuted. Valentine was then imprisoned himself, where he fell in love with, who is believed to be the jailor’s daughter. He secretly sent her letters and legend has it one of them was signed, “From your Valentine.” While the stories are all debatable the reality is we still have a day for love.1
Love is a huge topic in our faith. We talk about it, we often demonstrate it but it is a word so often used it often loses much of its meaning. The Greek language uses three different words to describe love. The first is Philia which is the origin of the name of Philadelphia. It describes a love for brothers and sisters and as a friend. The second is Eros which describes a sexual type of love. And the last use is agape, this is the love used most in the Bible and is a love which is the highest Christian virtue of love.
Maybe one of the greatest verses in the all the Bible is called the love chapter found in the Book of 1 Corinthians 13. It is often used in weddings and is found on many of your walls at home. It says:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This describes and expresses the importance of love. It teaches that without love, what we say doesn’t really matter. Without love, knowledge and even faith is not able to become what they should. This passage describes love as actions more than merely words. Love makes us become the people God has called us to become. Lastly, it states love is the most valuable thing in our faith and the greatest things we hope for is all found in love.
The greatest love ever demonstrated was the love of Christ. His willingness to come and live amongst us and to die for us shows the picture described here. This month as we focus on love, remember the greatest of these is love. Show it to the ones you are in contact and that you love. Have patience, be kind and be willing to place others before you. It is so easy to say “I love….” but this month actually DO IT!
I look forward to seeing you in our socially distanced service…God Bless You!
I Love You,
A new year has begun which means New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve been speaking with the students on Wednesday nights about resolutions i.e. Goals. But not just any goals, such as getting All A’s on a report card, or making the Varsity team. Those are great goals to have, and we definitely encourage them, but the goals we’ve been focusing on are God-Sized Goals. A God-Sized Goal is a goal that solves a problem that impacts others, not just yourself. A God-Sized Goal is something so big, it almost seems impossible to achieve. But with God at the forefront, these goals can be accomplished.
We have been studying in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s God-Sized Goal was to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Before he acquired the materials, before he gathered help, before he even set off on his journey to Jerusalem, he got down on his knees and wept, fasted and prayed. Whenever we have a goal in mind, we always begin by thinking about the time it will take us, or the resources we will need or even if it’s actually a goal we should be pursuing. Before we ever set a goal, we need to come to God first. We must seek Him and find out if it is something that He wants and will allow us to pursue. Nehemiah started with prayer.
When Nehemiah arrived to Jerusalem and started to build the wall, problems began. There were people from nearby cities that did not want the walls to be rebuilt, so they tried many things to stop Nehemiah and the people. Was the opposition enough to stop Nehemiah from continuing to build the wall? Not at all. Nehemiah took it to God in prayer and knew that with God on their side, they would finish what they started. This God-sized Goal was going to be completed.
Sometimes it seems like our challenges become the most difficult just before we cross the finish line. That was true for Derek Redmond, a runner who competed in the 1992 Olympics. Derek planned, prepared, and trained hard, but 250 meters away from the finish line, his hamstring tore. Derek was hurt badly but he wanted to finish the race, so he hobbled as best as he could. You could see the pain in his eyes with every step he took towards that finish line. All of a sudden, Derek’s father runs up behind him and helped him cross that finish line.
Most of us would have no problem naming the negative impacts that COVID-19 and the policies enacted to curb the pandemic have had on our lives. The death toll itself seems taken from times a century or more ago when medicine was much less accessible and reliable. I do not minimize the grief and pain this virus has caused. But I want you to think about how your everyday lives have changed. Masks, hand sanitizer and second thoughts about touching in general are the first things that come to my mind!
What about you? What do you see as the biggest or most disappointing change COVID has brought to your life? My answer might surprise you, because it was already happening before COVID. YES, it just seems COVID pushed it further and quicker.
My biggest disappointment is the negative impact COVID has had on church attendance. Sure, folks were already letting other things take precedent over going to church regularly. But most “church-going” folks considered themselves “regular attenders” if they made it to church once or twice every six weeks or so. COVID has kept even those folks home for months. But what I can’t figure out is why...?
I mean, after all, we’ve most all returned to all the places we stopped going to during the early days of the pandemic. We go to the grocery store. (I bet they’re not wiping down the buggies anymore.) We go to school. (Are they still taking temperatures?) We go to restaurants. (Do those plexiglass things keep the germs off your hands when you hand over the money?)
We pretty much go and do everything we did pre-lockdown. So, what’s keeping us home from church? Are we afraid someone will forcibly shake hands? Are we worried about “those huggers.” (You know who you are!) Is the church a hotbed of germs and sickness, coughing and sniffling? Well, no, it’s not... In fact, our church is still cleaning and sanitizing possibly more than any other place you go (other than a doctor’s office) because we truly care about your safety, comfort and well-being.
So, why AREN’T we going to church anymore? Well, I have my theories but I’ll keep them to myself. You really need to answer that question for yourself...but I’d bet money it isn’t because we’re afraid of a gang of hugging church members!
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
Please stop by our Church Library in the Dorcas classroom and see the books that were added to the collection over the summer. There are about 65 of them! Thank you very much to those who donated. There is a list of the new books in the purple folder on the desk and “New to Our Library” bookmarks in the books on the shelves. To check out a book, just enter the date, book title and your name in the spiral notebook on the desk.