During the month of February, love becomes a topic of note. On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, we exchange love messages, poems, and simple gifts with our “beloveds”.
St. Valentine, whose name is honored on that day, was a priest in Rome in the 3rd century AD. He served as priest when Claudius the Cruel was the emperor in Rome. Claudius was involved in numerous and many unpopular and bloody battles to enlarge his kingdom. He had to have a strong army for this, but was having trouble getting soldiers to serve. He believed that men were unwilling to serve in his military because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To solve this perceived problem Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of this, defied the decree and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Valentine’s actions were discovered and he was sentenced to death. The execution was carried out on February 14, around the year 278 AD. (history.com/this-day-in history/st-valentine-beheaded)
It is fitting to remember the godly acts of St. Valentine in his upholding God’s institution of marriage. The love husbands and wives share with one another is compared to the love Christ has for His church. Husbands are to be willing to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Wives are instructed to love their husbands in the same way the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24).
Jesus’ command to love one another as He has loved us also extends beyond our closest loved ones to all those with whom we have contact. We love others as Jesus loved us in our families, among our friends, with our fellow workers, at home, at work, in our various callings in life. We share the love of Christ in all we do, loving others as He has loved us.
It is my honor and privilege to get to share the love of Christ in my vocation as pastor with the members of Living Word Lutheran Church. This includes preaching and teaching but also includes more personal interactions that involve pastoral care. There are situations that arise in all of our lives when pastoral care is needed for us to receive the love of Christ to provide us strength through our difficulties. But I am not always aware of everyone’s individual needs.
If you are in need of pastoral care at times of illness or distress, or also in times of joy, please let me know. Please don’t think that I will find out from someone else. Please don’t think that I am too busy, or shouldn’t be bothered with your concern, or that I have enough of my own problems, or that there is some reason I don’t want to see you. It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve our Lord by bringing His love to the members of the flock at Living Word and I enjoy being able to do that.
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples (“just as I have loved you, you also love one another”), right before He would demonstrate just how much He loves us all. Jesus gave this command just before He went to the cross to give Himself up completely for us all to save us from all of our sins. It is by receiving His love through His Word that we are washed clean and made new. By being reassured of His great love for us and His presence with us we are empowered to love others as He has loved and loves us.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Rejoice in living in the love of Christ and sharing that love with those around you.