Dear Partners in Mission:
Happy St. Valentine’s Day! While this day has of course been co-opted by the “valentine’s day industrial complex” it is still a feast day for the church as well. The stories of Valentine, as with many of the early saints, have inconsistencies and are not “history” as we understand it but are clearly idealized to promote the person being remembered. If we recognize this, there are, however, lessons for us in the witness of Valentine. The theme of Valentine’s veneration, his commitment to evangelism, sharing Christ with others, and building human community in the midst of difficult and, ultimately dangerous, times is certainly worthy of our attention.
Living in a time of generational decline for the church can make us also nostalgic for an idealized past. We look back, particularly at the historical heights of Church adherence in the post WW2 baby boom, and can believe somehow it was easier or better then. We can pine for a time when society endorsed church attendance, when evangelism could be as simple as being ready to welcome those who came to our churches with a welcome packet. Or we can follow in Valentine’s footsteps. Not assuming people will come to us but sharing one on one with those in our midst what God has done for us in Christ. Telling the stories of how lives are changed through ministries of our congregations. How being in community helps us get through the difficulties of our life and gives us hope for the future.
St. Valentine may or may not have done the things attributed to him. However, in the stories of him we are encouraged to continue to share our faith, even in challenging times. To remember the church is not our buildings or ministry locations, but the people of God sharing the good news. News of the one who loves us more than anyone, even our Valentine, could ever love.