Ah, those were the days when we were young and the Beatles were all the rage, for then love, or what we thought was love, was very much in the air.
And yet as February 14th approaches, something of that still survives, for on St. Valentine’s Day, the discerning romantic will be able to offer his beloved heart-shaped silk cushions, hot house freesias, risqué boxer shorts, together with the obligatory Valentine card.
But who was St. Valentine?
It appears that he was a Christian, beheaded at a pagan festival of love in the 3rd century, but it wasn’t until the 5th century that he became officially the patron saint of lovers.
Gradually, as his popularity grew, love tokens began to be exchanged, so that by the 17th century women might receive generous gifts of jewellery, perfume and gloves.
However, towards the end of the 18th century, such presents were gradually replaced by cards, which the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840 helped to encourage.
But what is his relevance for us today?
Delia Smith once said: “We live in a world where the word ‘love’ can be about as meaningful as Coca-Cola. We throw the word to the winds like a bunch of confetti, which glitters for the moment, then falls to the ground without significance. Love is in pop songs, T.V. commercials, written on ‘T’ shirts – love promotes, sells packages.
“But you don’t need to be a psychologist to detect that when a person keeps going on about something, it’s usually because they have a problem, and maybe the modern obsession with the word love is a cry for help. And if the world is crying out for love, what it’s really crying out for is God, because God is love.”
For in those famous words written by St. John: “This is what love is; it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” (1 John 4:10)
For in contrast to our selective use of the word, Jesus loved the moral outcast, the medical outcast, the social outcast, the physical outcast, the legal outcast – and he loves you and me.
For what the world needs now is ‘love, sweet love’, a love which is freely available in Christ.
“Ask,” said Jesus, “and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Because all we need is love, God’s love, and not just for one day in the year.
With best wishes, Charles Jefferson