Sunday is St. Valentine’s Day, although the way we celebrate it today has almost nothing to do with any Christian saint. Very little is known about St. Valentine. One of the earliest records we have is an account written around the year 1260, in a collection of stories about Christian martyrs. According to this brief reference, around 280 A.D. the Roman emperor sentenced Valentine to die for refusing to deny Christ. Before he was beheaded, Valentine miraculously restored sight to his jailer’s blind daughter, and that is about all that is said about him.
It is rather a muddle as to how we got from this obscure legend to roses and candy hearts. Some later stories say that Valentine was a priest who was originally arrested for performing Christian weddings that were illegal. Another tale says that while he was in prison he was denied paper to write letters to those he loved. However there was a tree with heart shaped leaves near the window of his cell. He would pluck these leaves and send them instead. But there is no solid evidence for any of this.
This year Valentine’s Day falls on the first Sunday of Lent. Now, romantic love is wonderful. None of us would be here without it. But Lent is a time of reflection on a much deeper kind of love, a love that is symbolized in that ancient story of that original Valentine. He cared for and wanted the best for others, even those who were persecuting him. This kind of love can only come from God. This kind of love is why God the Father gave up the Beloved Son, and sent him into this world to die on a cross. It is a mystery and beyond our understanding, but every year we take 40 days to contemplate and wonder.
So join us this Sunday as we begin. The Cherub Choir will be singing at the first service. As Jesus reminds us on Palm Sunday, “From the mouths of little ones comes perfect praise.” I will be preaching on Deuteronomy 26:1-11. My sermon title is “In Ages Past and For Years to Come.”
Stay in One Peace,