How does Valentine’s Day make you feel?
I remember my childhood fear when I realised that Valentine’s Day fell on a school day. For me that meant being left out once again while all the pretty, cool, funny and popular ones got a desk stuffed full of cards and gifts.
It left me with a feeling that love was for them and not for people like me, those whose desks were empty, without even a single card. It was a feeling not appeased by Mum’s ever wise words that I was loved, special, and unique.
This deep-seated emotion towards our contemporary Valentine’s Day has not left me.
The commercial push to buy a gift or eat a meal with that one important person, seems to portray a love that is closed to others, and one which excludes many in our communities; those without a partner, people whose romantic relationships have broken down, those who have been emotionally and physically damaged by those who claimed to love them.
This year is different…
I was delighted when I discovered that this year the 14th of February is the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday. As the days lengthen (this is where the word Lent comes from), some Christians use this time to look forward to Easter Day, and spend the next six weeks preparing to celebrate God’s victory over death.
Within our contemporary culture, Lent has become a chance to be a “resolutionist”, giving up chocolate to lose weight, or wine to improve our health, in the manner of a self-help or a self-improvement plan. This is the antithesis of the gospel where the good news of Jesus is that we will never improve ourselves by trying harder. God’s forgiveness cannot be earned, it is a precious gift.
Christ sacrificed his life blood to set us free, which means our sins are now forgiven. Christ did this because of God’s gift of undeserved grace to us. Ephesians 1:7-8 (CEV)
Sharing God’s love
Did you know that Lent was originally a community act? Everyone in the church family, committing together to fast so that God’s love, kindness, and grace would be more clearly seen. Could we, on the 14th of February this year, commit as God’s church, in the local communities he has placed us, to do something that will show God’s expansive all-inclusive love to those around us?
The opposite of the narrow love so often portrayed by the commercial Valentine’s Day. Replacing a meal for a couple, to a feast for many? Working together to make gifts for those in our communities, for no other reason than we love them? Looking up from our screens, and individualistic tasks, to notice and care for those around us? Why don’t you get together as an all-age church family and start wondering?
What could Valentine’s Day be the start of for your congregation and wider community as we generously share God’s love with those around us?
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
Children’s Resources Manager