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Thought for week beginning 14th February 2021-Valentine’s day.

Valentine’s day, also called Saint Valentine or Valentinus day, comes from Valens (Latin) meaning worthy, powerful, strong. This name was used to describe and celebrate many Christian martyrs who lived in ancient Rome. One in particular, was a kind hearted and caring Roman priest, who is said to have loved God with all his heart. He ministered to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire, and also performed weddings for Christian soldiers against the wishes of the Emperor Claudius 11. He was beheaded on 14th February, around 270BC – 14th February, became a feast day, established in his honour by Pope Gelasius, AD 496.

Today the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day has evolved into the romantic and sensual love (Greek Eros). However, as Christians, Valentine’s day is much more than Eros, as it includes brotherly/sisterly, or neighbourly love (Greek Agape). Agape love reminds us of how Christ fulfilled God’s unconditional and sacrificial love for us his brothers and sisters by taking the path that led to his death and resurrection.

An example of agape love, mirroring Jesus’ unconditional love, was presented to us last week, at the Garstang URC Leprosy Sunday service. The worship was led by Paul Moores, (Regional Manager, The Leprosy Mission). It was very moving seeing the commitment of the leprosy mission team in Mozambique, including the changemakers (some disfigured by leprosy), in showing the unconditional love of Christ to other victims of this cruel disease. One of the people featured in the presentation, is Deolina, a mother of two, who was cured of leprosy 15years ago. Touched by the love and care she received, she trained to become a Leprosy Changemaker. She wants to do whatever it takes to help others recently diagnosed with leprosy. The slogan for this year’s leprosy appeal is: Unconditional love – No Matter How Long; No Matter How Far; No Matter What. (To donate or find out more, ask your church treasurer or go to unconditionalappeal.org.uk).

I wonder whether we can say that the above Leprosy Mission slogan is a model of love that we practice? How far are we willing to go to demonstrate the love of Christ to others? We are morally obligated to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. We must love enough to recognise the needs represented by others, and show empathy by responding with appropriate actions.

Remember that the smallest deed we do for someone else is better than our greatest intentions. You are to: do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can (John Wesley) 

Please fill in the gaps below, as a reminder that Jesus is God’s valentine gift to us:

 For God so lo-ed the world

      That He g-ve

           His on-y

           Begott-n

                  So-

                      -hat whosever

                 Bel-eveth in Him

           Should -ot perish

        But have -verlasting life (John 3:16)

 

Take care and blessing

Irene John