Dear Covenant Friends,
This year Valentine’s Day and the beginning of the season of Lent in the Church fell on the same day. When I checked out Facebook that day, I saw this pic pop up on some of my colleagues’ posts and even had someone from our congregational send it to me.
I loved the pic, plus the feeling of nostalgia that came while looking at a conversation heart. Sadly, I didn’t eat any this year because of being sick.
It might initially seem odd to begin and celebrate a church season that is asking us to join with Jesus as he prepares for his death on the cross, on Valentine’s Day. Definitely not the romantic vibe that currently monopolizes the holiday. But, like the pic says, you can’t spell Valentine without “Lent.”
There is no clear understanding of who St. Valentine is, but the best we can tell, he lived in the third century and was martyred on February 14. The story goes that St. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Both acts were considered serious crimes. Under arrest, St. Valentine refused to renounce his faith and Christianity and was executed. The church remembers Valentine as a faithful witness to Christ, even to the point of death.
It’s totally appropriate that the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and St. Valentine's Day were on the same day this year…both are about love. As we entered the Lenten season, we began with the celebration of Valentine's Day, a time when love takes center stage. While Valentine's Day nowadays often focuses on romantic love, it also offers us an opportunity to reflect on a deeper, more profound love—the love of God. Lent invites us to journey inward, to examine our hearts and minds, and to cultivate a love that extends beyond ourselves. It’s common for people to give gifts of love on Valentine’s. In Lent we’re encouraged to offer acts of kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to one another and to those we meet, embracing the love that God freely offers us and sharing it generously with others. As we engage in acts of obedience and faithfulness during Lent, may we be reminded of the greatest expression of love—the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, who gave his life for us out of pure, unconditional, long-suffering love.