Holiday good reminder to appreciate God’s gifts
The Rev. Gary Teske, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:
Should there be a faith component to Valentine’s Day? Of course, Valentine’s Day gets its name from several Saint Valentines who lived back in the second and third centuries. The lives of these individuals (what little we know of them) were examples of faithfulness to God, love for the neighbor, love even for the enemy and resistance to tyranny leading to their execution as martyrs. There would indeed be some benefit to holding onto that tradition as it calls us to acts of love that do more than win a kiss (candy or otherwise) from someone who is thought to be hot. However, it seems to me that the sugar and schmaltz industry has pretty much cut Valentine’s Day off at its roots, just like the roses that are given on that day.
However, setting aside my cynicism, I must confess that I find value in a day that invites me to send a note or small gift to my wife, daughters, grandchildren and others who are dear to me saying, “I love you,” something I don’t do often enough. A central faith component of mine is that God wants us to know that God loves us. Isaiah 43:4 reports these as God’s words, “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” And of course, John 3:16 begins with, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son …” There is a great deal of truth in the beer commercial where the young man cannot get the words “I love you” out of his mouth when speaking to his companion, but can all to easily say, “I’d love one” to the offer of another beer. Why is it so often so hard to say “I love you” to people we love? I believe God does want us to express our love for people we love in loving way that makes life more “lovely” for them. We can bring that faith component to Valentine’s Day in the way we choose to observe it.
— Send e-mail to Gary Teske at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and faith go ‘heart and hand’
The Rev. Maria Campbell, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass.:
Thoughts of love are floating in the air … Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate those we love. Turn on the television, go to a store or look in the newspaper, and you’ll be reminded to demonstrate how much you care. Considering our desperate economy and the heart-wrenching devastation in Haiti, it is comforting to focus on love, which is life-affirming. But love is not merely a feeling; it’s an action to be shared each day. God calls us to love God and one another as God loves us. God’s love affair with us began long before we were born. It started when God made us in the divine image, and formed us for loving relationships because “God is love.”
So why don’t we focus more on God this day? In the third century, there was a man named Valentine who demonstrated God’s unconditional love by healing the jailer’s daughter shortly before he was martyred. He showed God’s love, but over the centuries we have lost his original intent. To love as God loves means that you love with more concern for others than you have for yourself. It means that you might choose to make a donation for those who had the foundations of their lives shaken and the floor ripped out from under them, rather than treat yourself to another electronic gadget. It means volunteering at a food kitchen instead of watching a sporting event.
What does Valentine’s Day have to do with faith? Everything, because if we are faithful to the Creator, we celebrate life. We should treasure the world and its people and give freely of our resources so all might experience being loved and having full stomachs and access to health care. If we are faithful, we love all people in joyous response for the love we have received … for God so loves the world.
— Send e-mail to Maria Campbell at email@example.com.