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Pastor's Column

"Happy Valentine's Day!"

  Valentine's Day is Thursday.  If you need a reminder, almost every store you enter has heart-shaped boxes of chocolates reminding us to express our "love" for our sweet heart.  I usually wait to buy a box until after the holiday when the candy goes on sale.   

  Valentine's Day gets its name from Valentinus, a third century Christian martyr in Rome.  Valentinus is remembered for his undying love for his Lord and for his fellow man.  His memory is celebrated on February 14.  

  There also are valentine cards that we send to express our concern and love for others.  My first experience with such Valentine's Day cards goes back to grade school.  We had a large decorated valentine box in the front of the classroom into which every student placed valentine cards for every other student in the class and even for the teacher.  That way every student received about 25 or 30 valentines.  Nobody was left out.

  St. Valentine and his special day of remembrance also remind us of some famous verses in the Bible about God's love for us.  Perhaps the most famous of these verses is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

  When Tim Tebow was playing football as quarterback for the Florida Gators in the National Championship Game, he was wearing black tape under his eyes to help deflect the sun light.  In those days the NCAA allowed players to put messages on the tape.  Tim decided to have John 3:16 on the tape below his eyes.  He was told later that during the game and immediately after 94 million people searched for John 3:16 on Google.  What a powerful witness for God's love for us!

  Another point about John 3:16 comes to us from the famous 16th century Reformer Martin Luther.  He said that it was a good thing that the verse did not say, "God so loved Martin Luther that he gave his one and only Son," because what if there was another Martin Luther somewhere that God was referring to.  Thank God the verse reads, "God so loved the WORLD."  No one in the entire world is left out of the scope of God's forgiving love in Christ Jesus.

  In his famous LOVE chapter, I Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul sings the praises of Christian love.  "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres....Faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is LOVE."  (I Corinthians 13:4-7, 13)

  When we say, "Happy Valentine's Day!" this year, does our love for others match what Paul describes here?  Does our love come close to God's great  love for us?  Thank God for John 3:16.

  "Happy Valentine's Day!"   


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