“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is LOVE.” — [I Corinthians 13:13]
I like doing weddings. Weddings are a lot of fun. It is always an honor and a joy to celebrate with a couple and their families the unity of two people, two families and, sometimes, two cultures. I consider myself blessed to have met so many fascinating people. And there is a satisfaction that cannot be described when a couple, whose marriage you performed, comes to church pushing a stroller with a newborn. I always feel like I am, in some way, a part of that miracle, and that is a great honor.
Couples who want to get married love I Corinthians 13. The “Love Chapter” is one of the most “romantic” chapters in the Bible. There is just one problem. Paul was not writing about romantic love, but Godly love. Because I Corinthians 13 is used so frequently at weddings, single people who are not in relationships, think that it doesn’t pertain to them. The fact that the author, St. Paul, was a confirmed bachelor, escapes notice. Also, the fact that romance was the last thing on Paul’s mind, seldom gets mentioned. And that is why I bring up to all of you who think I Corinthians 13 is the sole possession of the happily married, it isn’t. This is God’s love letter to you. I Corinthians 13 belongs to everybody and so does Love.
When Valentine’s Day comes, dating and married people celebrate while single people are often left out. A single person may even say, “I haven’t found love yet.” I find that to be the saddest statement of all.
When I looked up Valentine’s Day, I discovered that this was a holiday that celebrated the contributions of a Christian martyr who lost his life by refusing to deny his faith. St. Valentine, like St. Paul, was a confirmed bachelor. And when he befriended the jailor’s daughter, he wrote her a letter of encouragement in her newfound faith. He signed it “Your Valentine.” This was not a romantic letter, but it was a love letter nevertheless. Valentine shared God’s love with a Christian convert.
Now, this legend varies as it is told and retold. How a perfectly platonic letter between a brother in faith written to a sister in faith could be the inspiration for a holiday which seems to be the sole possession of the happily dating or the happily married is beyond me.
I say it is time to give this holiday back to all people. Let us take time to write “love letters” to our friends who stuck with us through thick and thin. Let us write “love letters” to single and widowed people who are especially lonely on Valentine’s Day. Let us write “love letters” to our brother and sisters in faith who worship with us on a regular basis and could use a little reminder that they are loved. And yes, we carry on the celebration of marriage and courtship as well.
Love belongs to all people. Let us share it [even if it is after Valentine’s Day. Love can be shared all year long!]
Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.