Love is in the air, unless that is my allergies acting up.   If you listen closely you can hear the all too familiar sound of a husband slapping his forehead because he forgot another important date, such as spouse's birthday.  Could be wedding anniversary.  This time, it is Valentimes, or as some people call it, Valentine's Day.  When they were just dating, the male never missed a Valentine's Day.  He had it circled in red on his calendar. (For those of you under the age of 35, a calendar was something we used back in the 70's to keep up with dates.) 

Once marriage takes place a scientific phenomenon happens within the male physiological geo-structure.  His memory chromosome goes  into hibernation.  It remains there until gently prompted by the loving wife, as in the statement, "Hey doofus!! Where are my flowers? You never do anything for me on Valentine's Day.  You don't even know my birthdate. You can't remember our anniversary.   My mother was right.  You care more about the Super Bowl than you do me!" The wounded and cowering male's immediate but insightful response is, "Oh yeah?  Which Super Bowl?"

Valentine's Day is actually one of our older, more syrupy card-infused holidays. Husbands have only been ignoring it since the 5th century.  It was begun by Pope Gelasius, whose winning but completely obnoxious campaign slogan was "Are you gellin'?" He was trying to change a pagan festival to a more family friendly celebration, sort of like changing Mardi Gras into an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese . . . or is it the other way around?  To replace the pagan god with a saint he chose Saint Bernard.  There was a concern.  Saint Bernard kept bringing people beer with a keg strapped around his neck, and then rescuing them.  Kind of like attending a church softball game.  So Gelasius chose again and picked Saint Valentine who lived in the 3rd century.

Saint Valentine was thrown into prison because he continued to perform marriage ceremonies against the wishes of the emporer. He also wanted to sing choruses in church instead of hymns, and he moved the offering to the end of the worship service.  From there his story eerily mirrors mine.  He fell in love with his jailer's daughter.  Just before he died he sent her a farewell message that said, "From your Valentine."  (The closest I've ever been to being in prison was spending 25 years in youth ministry.)

Historians tell us the first Valentine's card was probably sent in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife.  He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time.  He sent her a valentine.  She sent him a saw and some shrimp gumbo.  Charles, Duke of Orleans, may have been the first person to send a valentine but Jesus, Son of God, was the first and only person to send a valentine to the world.  He did it, not on paper, but on a cross.

We meet people every day who are imprisoned by something . . . whether it be drugs, alcohol, work, stress, failure, sickness, depression, being alone, or something else.  They are going through tough times that really are trying their souls.  It seems they are always on the brink of losing it.  They need a valentine.  They need kind words combined with loving actions.  IJohn 3:18 says, " . . . let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (NIV)

In other words, we must put feet to our words.  It is easy to talk Christianity inside the four walls of a church.  The true test of our faith comes when we leave the buiding.  That is where we try our souls and our soles. Whenever we take love to someone in need  we help change their volatile times into Valentimes. 


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