Love Is a Core Value in Mission.
In the city of Rome there once lived an emperor named Claudius. His nickname was Claudius the Cruel. Near his palace was a beautiful temple where a priest named Valentine served. The Romans loved Valentine and sought his blessing whatever their religion, nationality, gender, or financial status.
Claudius did not bless people. Instead, he started wars which required citizens do the fighting. Because these wars were seen as unjust, many Romans refused to go preferring to stay home and protect their families. The younger men did not want to leave their sweethearts, either. The emperor was angry when too few soldiers volunteered. He tried to solve the problem by ordering that no marriages should be celebrated and that all engagements must be broken off immediately. Its not surprising that the people were unhappy (and this explains how he earned his nickname!)
Now the good priest Valentine was sad that the emperor was putting selfish war-making before of the needs of the people. By some accounts Valentine became a believer in Christ and was known to have assisted other believers, many of whom ended up dying for their faith becoming martyrs. When a young couple in love stopped by, he secretly united them in marriage. Another pair sought his aid and in secret he wedded them, too. Many others came and quietly were married. Valentine was the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.
But the secret of these newly married couples could not be kept for long. Claudius the Cruel was angry and he sent his soldiers to "arrest Valentine and cast him into a dungeon!" Captured during a wedding ceremony, Valentine was taken to prison.
The entire city interceded without success with Claudius. Eventually, in that dungeon, Valentine died. His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes. When you go to Rome you can see the very place. It was the fourteenth day of February in the year 270 that Valentine died.
Whether you enjoy or avoid Valentine’s Day, we all have one inescapable need: to feel loved. Alone or with others. At home or in another safe place. Whether in our relationship with God through Christ (For God loved the world that he gave his one and only Son... John 3:16) or as we, "love one another with mutual affection..." and "outdo one another in showing honor" (Rom. 12:10), we want to belong to something meaningful and be cared for. Each of us can fulfill our life's mission of love that God has given us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The core value of our community of faith is that God loves us more than we can possibly imagine and he has sent us to show that love to others every day of the year. "So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love ❤️ , and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them (1 John 4:16). You are worth God's perfect love. Our communities deserve to see God’s love in action through us, too!
For many, special days like Valentine's Day only reinforces that we either feel loved, or it reminds us that we feel unloved. While all of us are unlovable from time to time, all of us can count on God "lavishing his love on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
It may be fun to look especially nice on Valentine's Day, and other special events. We may even feel we always need to look dressed up for worship. But at our gathering place,, we want everyone to feel comfortable. If you like to wear a tie, great! If you don't, that's great, too! The point is not to impress others or appease the imagined judgement we may feel. We can look formal or casual and still be loved. You never need to dress to impress God. In fact, God doesn’t place any importance on what you look like, even though to God you are perfect because God created you in Christ Jesus. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Colossians 3:14).
We are on a mission from God to show the world that God is love in our mission, worship, and work. Cold Spring Church seeks to love all, even places, people, or circumstances that may at first glance look unlovable. We want to be a place of welcoming acceptance where anyone can feel loved, and be equipped to love others in the name of Jesus Christ. That's the story of St. Valentine.
I hope you know more and more the unconditional love that God has for you, your family, and community. Want to experience more of God's love? Love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything (1 Peter 4:8).
Happy Valentine's Day!