Dear Family of St John’s

This past Tuesday was Valentine’s Day! Or as my family calls it, Valentime’s Day – thanks to my boys’ mispronunciation when they were small.

When the children were young, I used to love making them special Valentime’s Day breakfasts, with heart shaped toast or crumpets. I’d put together little goodie bags for them with their favourite treats from their not-so-secret ‘Valentime’. These days, I either miss them for breakfast because they’re off really early or because they’re trying to sleep in! And neither of them eats those special treats anymore – unless you count protein shakes as a special treat?

We’ve never taken part in the over-priced red roses or chocolate traditions though. This year I bought my husband a box full of his favourite XXX Mints. I managed to fit thirty-six rolls of mints into the box! And I was in giggles the whole time while he was opening it. I have no idea how long it will take him to finish them, not as long as I’d hope! Our gifts, if we remember to buy anything, are always amusing ones.

We started dating on Valentine’s Day twenty-eight years ago! We went out to dinner this Valentine’s Day to the same place we had dinner twenty-eight years ago. Or to ‘the scene of the crime’, as my romantic husband put it. However, we went home a lot earlier than we did when we were eighteen and twenty years old!

I know that not everyone enjoys Valentine’s Day. The day is certainly over-commercialised. And we shouldn’t be celebrating our love for someone only one day of the year. If we look at Valentine’s Day in the way the world markets it, I can understand why some might want to ignore the day.

Tina Turner sang, ‘What’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a secondhand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?’ She sang that love was a ‘sweet old-fashioned notion’.

Sorry, Tina, but I disagree. It’s all about love. And that’s why I choose to see Valentine’s Day differently. I choose to see it as a reminder of God’s love for each one of us. A reminder that because God loved us first, we are able to love each other.

And I’m not only talking about romantic love here. Love is far bigger than that.

It’s a reminder of how God expects us to love each other – patiently, kindly, humbly, trustingly, hopefully, tolerantly, encouragingly, steadfastly. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for a good description of what God’s love looks like.

If we read that passage, and ask how well we achieve that kind of love… I think we’d all fall short. We have work to do in loving each other well. We need to love our children and our spouses better. We need to love our parents and siblings better. We need to love our extended family and our friends better, our work colleagues and the strangers we meet each day. We need to love ourselves better.

And, we need to love our God better. With all our heart, soul, mind, body and strength.

If we think of how much God loves us, that He gave His Son for each one of us, surely that thought should inspire us to love a little more, a little better, from the abundance of love He gives.

May we learn to love as God loves us. May we celebrate this love in our interactions with each person we meet, each day.

With love,

Your friend and rector,