Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. It’s a day for red roses, love hearts, and cards sent by secret admirers. It’s a big deal for chocolate makers, card makers, florists, and makers of red wrapping paper. Most importantly, it’s a day to remember love and give thanks for those people close to you. Perhaps you received a Valentine’s Card; perhaps you sent a Valentine’s Card.
If you research the history of Valentine's Day, you’ll discover that it was commonly associated with romantic love by the middle of the 15th century in Europe. The first Valentine’s Day card even exists, on display in the British Museum. It was sent by a French nobleman to his wife while he was a prisoner in London in 1415. Less than two hundred years later, “valentines” were gifts given to one’s sweetheart.
But there’s much more to the tradition of Valentine’s Day. The tradition goes back to a Christian named Valentine who lived about two hundred years after Jesus. One story says Valentine was a pastor who secretly conducted weddings at a time when the Roman Emperor outlawed marriage (the Emperor wanted to recruit soldiers who had no family ties). Another says Valentine was a Christian imprisoned for his faith. He had prayed for healing for his jailer’s daughter – she was blind – and she was healed. But he was still to be executed. The day before his execution, which was February 14, 269, he sent a message to the girl who had been healed. The message was signed, “From your Valentine.”
We don’t know which story is true, or even if there’s another story that is the truth. Yet, the fact is that the tradition of Valentine’s Day is love understood from the perspective of the Gospel – God’s love for us in Jesus.
Whoever Valentine was and whatever he did, he did because his life was changed by God’s love. Listen to words many of us know well from 1 John 4:7-12
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. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Today, we hear lots of talk about love. But true love, Valentine’s love, is the love of Jesus, who gave his life for us to redeem us, to transform us, and to inspire us to love God, love one another, and love this world.
I don’t know if you gave or received a Valentine’s gift or card yesterday. But you can be a Valentine’s gift to someone today – and every day. You can love others with Jesus’ love even when such love is despised or denied, like the Emperor who despised marriage. You can love others with Jesus’ love, bringing spiritual sight to the blind, even if it costs you everything, like Valentine when he healed a girl only to be executed later. Be a Valentine, a Christlike Valentine, to someone today.
如果你研究情人節的歷史，你很快就會發現，在 15 世紀中葉的歐洲，它通常與浪漫的愛情聯繫在一起，第一張情人節賀卡甚至還陳列在大英博物館中，它是 1415 年一位法國貴族在倫敦做囚犯時寄給他妻子的。不到 200 年後，“情人”就成了送給心上人的禮物。
但情人節的傳統遠不止於此——這個傳統可以追溯到一位名叫瓦倫丁的基督徒，他比耶穌晚了大約 200 年。一個故事說瓦倫丁是一位牧師，在羅馬皇帝宣布婚姻为非法的時候秘密主持婚禮（皇帝想招募沒有家庭關係的士兵）。另一個故事說瓦倫丁是一名基督徒，因信仰而入獄。他曾為看守的女兒祈求醫治——她是盲人，虽然后来她痊癒了，但他仍要被處決。在他被處決的前一天，也就是公元 269 年 2 月 14 日，他給被治癒的女孩送去了一條消息，消息的簽名是“來自你的情人”。
無論瓦倫丁是誰，無論他做了什麼，他所做的都是因為神的愛改變了他的生命。聽聽約翰一書 4:7-12 中我們很多人都熟知的話。
Grace, peace, and love in Jesus