February is traditionally known as the month of Love. The 14th February is the Feast of St. Valentine, when traditionally couples exchange gifts that are symbols of the love they have for each other. However, have you ever wondered who Valentine was, and why this practice started?
Saint Valentine was a Bishop of the early Christian Church in Italy. During the reign of Claudius II as Roman Emperor (268-270 AD), Christians where under sever persecution and a law was in place preventing anyone from helping the growing Christian Community. Valentine was arrested, imprisoned and eventually martyred for not only being a Christian, but also for helping other Christians by conducting Marriage Ceremonies. In the 4th Century Valentine was declared a saint and in the 1830’s the Roman Catholic Church dedicated St. Valentine, in recognition of how he helped the early Christian community as the patron saint of young people and all those in love. Thus starting the tradition of expressing our feelings for our loved one’s on St. Valentine’s Day.
With it being a leap year this month is extra special bringing ‘Ladies Choice’. Every four years, on the 29th February, ladies can break with tradition and are permitted to ask the Man who they love to marry them. I am sure you like me know ladies who have ‘popped the question’ without it being 29th February.
The romance of the tradition of 14th February and 29th February still circulate amongst us. This year we want to celebrate that love and romance, which is shared between a husband and wife, in the Wedding Dress Festival (details on the front page). Not only will there be over 30 Wedding Dresses on display for people to file past and admire, there will also be the opportunity to worship and give thanks to God – the creator of love. On the Sunday evening Bishop Ken and his wife Mary will be with us and will share a little of their story. Afterwards everyone will be invited to enjoy tea/coffee, wedding cake etc in the Parish Hall. If any couples would like a special prayer of blessing and/or to renew their wedding vows, then an opportunity will be available to do so as Bishop Ken and myself will remain in the Church after the service.
For me, February is an important month, it helps me focus on what love is. Not only do we have St. Valentine’s Day, but we also have Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. Lent is a season designed to make us think about how God loves us. In 1st John 4:19 we read “We love, because he first loved us”. For me, the events in this month will continually remind me of how God loves me. He loves me and you so much that He was willing to allow his Son to die in our place. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. What he asks in return for this is for us to choose to Love Him. Will you do, make the choice to love the Lord Jesus?