February as the coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is supposed to be warmed by love, so we take the middle of the month and dedicate it to love. Good idea. Of course, like all other holidays, it is not just my idea or your idea, there is a history and a reason for Valentine’s Day. Now hagiography, the study of the saints, is not my strongest suit. I’m told there are at least three different saints in the Roman Catholic calendar with the name Valentine or Valentinus. They are all connected with Rome and were martyred for their faith. One was known for defying an order from the Roman government to not perform marriages between young men and women destined for military service. So, he died protecting the ministry of love. Another of the Valentines fell in love with a woman while in jail for his faith. Apparently, he sent letters to this woman with the closing, “From your Valentine.” Thus, the Valentine card tradition began, or so it is said. He too was killed. So, all of us who are about to send some card or letter of affection take heed.
There is also a theory that the Roman celebration of a saint (St. Valentine) was to take away from the Roman pagan fertility rite called Lupercalia, held on the ides of February (Feb. 15). The theory suggests that the holiday in the church was to compete with or cover over the animal sacrifices and other things done to bring about the fecundity of fields and families. Instead, we write cards to show our love (whether we want to or we don’t want to do so…at least that’s what I remember in elementary school). Loving each other takes creativity, energy, and imagination. Chocolates help.
So, we take some time to love one another in February, and we know that it is a biblical exhortation: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God for God is love. Beloved let us love one another. (1 John 4:7-8)
We also take some time this month to learn about other cultures and persons in our congregation. It is Black History Month and we simply say we have a lot to learn in this regard. So we celebrate our racial diversity and being the family of God that Jesus has made us. Take some time to love one another this month.