The Holidays!

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I bet your first thought was, uh – dude, you’re a little late…but hear me out. My youngest son was scrolling through Netflix last week and he came across the series of shorts, “Happy Holidays from Madagascar”. The rule in our house is, no Christmas movies until after Thanksgiving. Then, once Christmas Day rolls around…take a break and RESET. So, as I happened to be strolling through the room and saw the title of the cartoon, I jokingly barked, “Hey! No Christmas Movies!” He just smirked at me as the cartoon began playing. The opening scene has a couple of airplane pilots rummaging through Valentine’s boxes and candies…“HA!” my son said. “Fooled Ya!” Valentine’s Day. I didn’t see that coming. But I did end up sitting down to enjoy a little mindless banter between computer generated cartoon animals.

Valentine’s Day…the holiday I always try to forget about. I guess you could say I’m a little skeptical. It’s not usually on my list of observed holidays. Luckily my wife does not like to make a big deal of it either. She will do some things with the kids and we’ll get them some candy. But I did get to thinking this year. What is Valentine’s Day really about? What is the history?

So I thought that I’d do some research on St. Valentine. I came across an article by David Kithcart, who had a conversation with Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland. Whitefriars Street Church is home to the relics of St. Valentine. Long story short, legend (note this is just all legend) goes that Valentine was a Priest that would marry Christian couples against an edict from the emperor. Claudius, the emperor of Rome, believed that single young men fought better than married ones – they weren’t prone to worry as much. Yet there were still Christian couples who wanted to get married. Valentine would secretly marry these couples. Well, he was found out, tortured, and imprisoned. One legend is that while he was imprisoned, Valentine prayed for his jailer’s blind daughter. The daughter was healed and the jailer’s whole family came to believe in Jesus and get baptized. Valentine was eventually sentenced to a brutal death and as the story goes, his last penning before his death was to the daughter who had been healed and it was signed “from your Valentine”.

O’Gara went on to say, “….the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.” The shadow of the cross. A holiday celebrating the love and healing and peace that we find in the shadow of the cross. A place where the blind find sight. I can get on board with that. It makes me think of John 15:9-17. As Jesus goes into explaining love, verse 9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Verse 12, “Love each other as I have loved you.” Verse 13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Verse 16, we didn’t choose Him, He chose us.

He CHOSE us. He loves us. He laid down His life for us.

Let’s love on someone this week.

-Bryan Talbott

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