All You Need Is Love
by Dale Reeves
According to the History Channel, there is some confusion regarding who the real “St. Valentine” was. The Roman Catholic Church recognized a St. Valentine as a real person who died around AD 270. One account from the 1400s describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded near Rome by the emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed. A different account claims that Valentine was the bishop of Terni, a town in central Italy, also martyred by Claudius II. As early as AD 496 his true identity was questioned, and because of that confusion, years later in 1969 the Catholic Church discontinued the veneration of him though he remains on its list of officially recognized saints. In addition to being the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages, St. Valentine is also thought by the Catholic Church to provide help to beekeepers, those with epilepsy, and those who have a tendency to faint. I’ve been to a few weddings where his services were needed for a wedding party member or groom who had fainted.
Somebody to Love
The medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer often took liberties with history, placing his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts. No record exists of celebrations of love on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375. In that poem he linked a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day–an association that didn’t exist until after this poem received attention. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. Thus, Chaucer may have invented the holiday that we still celebrate today.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) surveyed 7,267 adult consumers between January 2–9 of this year. According to the NRF, of those who celebrate Valentine’s Day with their spouse or significant other, the average amount spent on them is estimated to be $101.21 per person. Of those celebrating Valentine’s Day, twenty-seven percent of those surveyed say they will buy gifts for their pets. Proper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said, “Husbands and wives don’t need to be worried if their spouses are buying a Valentine’s Day gift for someone else—most likely it’s greeting cards for their children’s classes at school, flowers for a family member, or maybe a treat for the family dog.” We might call that “puppy love!” Here are a few other interesting facts according to the NRF: This year $5.8 billion will be spent on jewelry, $4.3 billion on an evening out, $2.9 billion on clothing, $2.4 billion on candy, $2.3 billion on flowers, $2 billion on gift cards, and $1.3 billion on greeting cards. Gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are desired by 41 percent of people but only planned by 28 percent of them.
This year the chamber of commerce and post office of Loveland, Colorado, will receive more than 120,000 valentines from all fifty states and 110 countries across the world. Through its Valentine Re-mailing Program, the city of Loveland, CO, employs the help of fifty volunteers who will hand stamp the collector’s stamp and postmark onto each individual valentine that comes through the city. All U.S. mail must be received by February 7 to ensure delivery by Valentine’s Day. So if you want to send a unique card with their postmark, you’ll have to wait until next year. Want to know more? Click here: https://www.loveland.org/programs/valentine-re-mailing-program/
In the midst of the Super Bowl hoopla last weekend, the halftime show, the actual game, and the overpriced commercials, you may have missed this one from New York Life . . .
I couldn’t believe my eyes when the commercial started to break down the meanings of the four words the ancient Greeks used for love:
- philia—“affection that grows from friendship”
- storge—“the kind of love you have for a grandparent or a brother”
- eros—“the uncontrollable urge to say ‘I love you’—and express physical love”
- agape—“this kind of love is the most admirable, love as an action; it takes courage, sacrifice, and strength”
The Bible talks a lot about agape, the kind of love Jesus demonstrated throughout his life, the kind of love he calls us to express to others. This is the word he used when he asked the apostle Peter in John 21:15-19 if he really “loved” him. He used this word to ask Peter this question twice during his encounter with him on the seashore after his resurrection. Each of those two times, Peter answered him by saying, “Yes, Lord, you know I love (philia) you.” The third time when Jesus asked Peter if he truly loved him, he used the philia word. Scholars have spent a lot of time digging into this narrative. Some say that agape is the higher form of love, and Jesus comes down to Peter’s level the third time because in this episode Peter couldn’t bring himself to utter the agape word. Other scholars point out that these two words for love were used interchangeably in the Gospels, and there is no deeper meaning to uncover. Regardless, Jesus had forgiven Peter for denying that he knew him in his greatest hour of need, and had restored their relationship through this encounter.
The Power of Love
Every single day we see encounters between people through social media, C-SPAN, and any other news outlet you can think of that demonstrate just the opposite of philia and agape love. The Bible says there is a “god of this age” who is intent on promoting hatred, evil, and dissension as often as possible wherever he can get his foot in the door—in the social sector, in big business, in politics, schools, the home, and the church. What kind of lover is God calling you to be in your spheres of influence? And, in your relationships with others? How can you demonstrate love in action—with courage and sacrifice?
Hope to see you this coming Sunday as we continue in our “I Wish” sermon series and talk about erotic love this week—the kind God designed to take place within the context of marriage. It’s deeper than puppy love and more lasting than flowers, chocolate, or a day spent at the spa.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, NLT).