In the middle of February, in this the shortest month of the year, amid chilly and often wet days, is St Valentine’s day.
St Valentine lived near Rome in the 4th century at a time of persecution against Christians and was martyred for his faith yet his name has somehow become connected with romantic love. All the cards in the shops with their red and pink hearts and pairs of cooing doves suggest that this romantic love still has a place in a world that is often cynical and where broken relationships are all too common. While it is good to celebrate one’s love for a particular person with a Valentine’s card or special meal, this can be a hard day for those who have experienced broken relationships, those whose much- loved partner has died, along with those who have never known a lasting love, much to their regret.
Love is essential for human flourishing but there is more to love than the heady heights of romantic attachments. Each of us were made in love by God who loves us individually and shows his love for all of humankind in sending Jesus to live and die for us. This love is unconditional, even when we have got it all wrong, because there is no fear in love. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love for us. The response to being loved in this way should be shown in our love for one another. We are reminded that such love should be patient, kind and forgiving reaching out to include those who are not very lovely and those who feel unloved. Loving in this way is no easy option but is something that we as Christians can offer to a broken and divided world through God’s love abiding in us. Valentine’s flowers and cards fade but God’s love is eternal and we can always reflect this love to our world not only in February!
Rev Jane Culliford St Andrew's Church, West Stafford