Valentine's Day: A day when we are encouraged to share our love and affection with that special someone(s). I have heard people make the argument that Valentine's Day is simply a creation of the greeting card and candy companies. While those two groups didn't start Valentine's Day, they certainly have found ways to profit from it! The annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimates 20.7 billion (yes, with a b) will be spent on cards, candies, and other gifts.
What's interesting is that spending is up, but those celebrating the holiday is down to 51%. So, one out of two people will be celebrating. That makes sense. There are some who look forward to Valentine's Day as an exciting celebration where they can show their deepest feelings. They also look forward to having love and appreciation showered on them and basking in the glow of love.
For others, Valentine's Day strikes the deepest fear they have! What happens if I "mess this up" they wonder. Even though they care deeply about their "Valentine", they struggle to show their feelings. Candy, flowers, cards, simply can't communicate the depth of their love.
It seems that guys have more trouble regarding Valentine's Day. Sometimes there's unexpressed pressure to go all out and do something amazing. Some guys try to make Valentine's Day special, but there's the potential that all their plans may fall apart.
Men are not known for their ability to share the depth of their emotions. You may have heard about the wife who complained about her husband never telling her that he loved her. Her husband looked up from his paper and said, "I told you I loved you on our wedding day and I'll let you know if that ever changes." Men don't always show their love, even though it's there.
In the spirit of trying to help all of you out, here are some ways you can show your love on Valentine's Day: flowers, chocolates, cards, a nice dinner out, doing the dishes, shoveling the driveway, putting on pants, getting a shower, cooking a nice dinner, giving gifts, writing a song, reciting a poem, practicing good hygiene, well, you get the idea. Some of those ideas are better than others (I never said I was a romantic).
Whether you are able to share your feelings of love or not, the Good News is that God decided that cards, flowers, greeting cards, words of appreciation, nor anything else was good enough to show how much he loves us.
When God decided to reveal his love to us, there was only one way that could do his love justice. Paul writes, "God demonstrated his love..." God's love wasn't just talked about, it was demonstrated. Paul continues, "God demonstrated his love in THIS...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
In that demonstration, God showed us what love looks like. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we can know what love is. Not the Valentine's, romantic kind of love, but deep, abiding, sacrificial love.
Valentine's Day is February 14th, but this year Ash Wednesday is February 26th. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. Lent is a special time in the church calendar of 40 days (not including Sundays) where we reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made. In reflecting on Jesus' sacrifice, we encounter God's way of sharing the depth of his love.
I invite you to spend intentional time in prayer, scripture, and other spiritual practices during Lent. Such practices create space for God to work in our lives and we are reminded that God loves us so much, he gave his only son, so that we might have eternal, everlasting, and abundant life!
There are many resources you can use during this season. St. Paul gives out a free devotional you can pick up at the church. If you are looking for a different devotional, I suggest Lenten devotionals by authors such as C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Walter Brueggeman, and Richard Rohr. Three years ago, a friend and I wrote a Lenten devotional called "Soil of our Soul: A 40-day Lenten Journey". If you are interested, it is still on Amazon's site.
I pray you have a great Valentine's Day. As you celebrate, may your thoughts turn to the One who loves you more than anyone ever could!