Rev'd Charles - February 2018

posted 1 Mar 2018, 06:05 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

 “All you need is love!” 

 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 of course 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 cushions, hot house freesias, jokey boxer shorts or gift wrapped champagne, together of course with the obligatory Valentine card! But.. 

Who was St Valentine? 

 Well, it appears that he was a Christian beheaded at a pagan festival of love in the 3rd century but it wasn’t in fact until the 5th century that he became officially the patron saint of lovers. Gradually, as he grew in popularity so love tokens began to be exchanged so that by the 17th century according to Samuel Pepys  (1633-1703) women received generous gifts of jewellery, perfume and gloves. However, towards the end of the 18th century such presents were gradually replaced by cards which the arrival of the Penny Post in 1840 ensured would grow in popularity, as they have done right up to the present day. But.. 

What is his relevance for us today? 

 Well, we live in a world, as Delia Smith once said, “where the word ‘love’ can be about as meaningful as coca cola. We throw the words to the winds like a bunch of confetti which glitters for a moment then falls to the ground without significance. Love is in pop songs, TV 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”.  And nowhere is God’s love more clearly seen than in the person of Christ. 

“For this is what love is,” writes St John, “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 own selective use of the word, Jesus loved the moral outcast (John 8:1-11), the medical outcast (Mark 1:40-45), the social outcast (Mark5:1-20), the physical outcast (John 9:1-41), the legal outcast (Luke 23:39-43) – and he loves you and me. For his love was not confined to his family, friends or compatriots, but extended even to those who hated him, and plotted against him, and who eventually had him scourged and nailed to a tree (Luke 23:33-34). 

No wonder, then, that no less a person than the Emperor Napoleon 1 (1769- 1821) could say that whereas “Alexander, Charlemagne, Caesar and I have founded great empires and rested them upon force, Jesus Christ has founded his on love, and at this hour millions will die for him.” And when Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22 : 34-40).