This month, as your Pastor, I want to encourage you to celebrate an old-fashioned Valentine’s Day. Ladies, before you go show this to your husband or significant other, expecting he’ll heed the advice and shower you with romance, perhaps you might read on. Permit me to share with you a few lines of a Valentine’s song:
For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thynke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.
And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kynde,
Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
In swich array men mighten hir ther finde.
This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
Bad every foul to take his owne place,
As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.
No, you haven’t heard it on the radio. In truth, you likely don’t even know what it says. It was written so long ago that even English speakers have trouble deciphering this English. You may recognize a few words like: “Seynt Valentynes day,” “every foul,” “Nature,” or “noble empresse.” In it birds of every kind gather before the empress Nature, as supposedly they do every year on the feast of St. Valentine, February 14, to choose a mate and encourage each other because spring is coming and summer is not far away. Obviously a fanciful, fictional poem, from its lines spring our modern ideas of Valentine’s Day. It was written by Geoffery Chauncer in 1382.
If the modern Valentine has been with us 635 years, what’s the old-fashioned Valentine? Until that poem was written, Valentine’s Day had been a feast day of the Christian Church commemorating one of three Pastors/Bishops named Valentine who were each killed for their faith in Jesus Christ by Roman Emperors of the 3rd century. Two were martyred in Rome and one in Africa. No one knows which Valentine the day actually commemorates, or perhaps all three, as Valentine was a common name in Roman times. In Latin it meant strong, brave, or courageous. The day was a day for believers to encourage one another to be “strong” (valens) in the Lord.
So, I’m not saying our modern Valentine’s day is “for the birds.” God would have us show love to our spouse and would have us do so daily. However, this year in addition to loving your spouse, consider celebrating an old-fashioned Valentine’s day. Yes, you can still do that with your significant other, but you can also do it with your kids, or your friends, or even with your co-workers. Encourage one another to be “strong in the Lord.” Instead of taking your inspiration from Chaucer’s lines try these:
Psalm 118:14: “The Lord is my strength and my song!”
Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Philippians 4:3: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Happy Valentine’s Day,