February 2018

Dear Friends,

Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine who according to church tradition was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor was imprisoning Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods. During this persecution, Valentine was arrested. While in prison Valentine spent much of his time witnessing to the guards about Christ. One of the guards was a good man who had adopted a blind girl. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed and the girl recovered her sight. The guard and his whole family, 46 people, believed in Jesus and were baptized. When the emperor heard about this he was furious that Valentine was still making converts even in prison, so he had Valentine beheaded.

Valentine knew that he might get caught in his Christian activities. And he knew that if he continued to witness for Christ in the prison he would make his captors angry. But he continued, because he loved the Lord and he loved others. He was willing to risk his own life to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who needed to hear it. Valentine knew that love is an action verb. It is something we do.

As Jesus shared a last supper with his disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, we hear Jesus instructing his disciples, “As I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Just watch Jesus in action and we learn how to love others. See Jesus as he reaches out and touches a man with leprosy…someone considered “unclean” by the religious world. Look at him as he befriends a lonely social outcast…a tax-collector …and goes home to share a meal with him. Watch as he helps a sinful woman to her feet and says, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Smile as he takes little children on to his knees and blesses each one. Stare in amazement as he girds his waist with a towel and tenderly washes the feet of each of the disciples …including Judas who will soon go forth to betray him. Let tears fill your eyes as he is crucified on a cruel Roman cross for the sins that you and I have committed. Look at Jesus and see how we are to love others.

A wonderful example of love in actions is what eight friends did to show their support and love when it was discovered that a high school friend had cancer. The prognosis for him was good, and the doctors were optimistic, but to fight the malignancy, he had to have chemotherapy. One of the things that bothered him most was the temporary hair loss caused by the chemotherapy.

The thought of having to go back to school with no hair was painful. But his friends devised a plan to help him. To ease his pain and embarrassment and to show their love and support his friends did a remarkable thing. They all shaved their heads so he would not feel so alone and conspicuous when he returned to school. The front page picture in the local newspaper showed them standing there in a semicircle, with Lance O’Pry in the middle, all with their heads shaved. And the headline read, “Everything We Do, We Do Together.” The school principal said, “I think it was super the way they banded behind him at such a critical time of his life.”

What a touching, heartwarming story of genuine friendship and love. Christian love is something you do for others. Love is an action verb. Love helps. Love forgives. Love encourages. Love strengthens. Love praises. Love supports. Love serves. As the old Christian hymn says, “They will know we are Christians by our love…by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

God’s richest blessings,