Daily Devotion 13 February 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a ‘The Gift of Love’

1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.

This year St. Valentine’s Day (tomorrow, the 14th February) falls on the Sunday before Lent. Over the years, newspapers have given considerable space to messages of love and affection, and often in poetic form. A little while ago there was one addressed to ‘My Snuggly Valentine’ which went: ‘I know I snore, I know I’m poor, but sweetheart, no-one could love you more.’

Another, hardly Shakespearean, but still rather endearing, read like this:

‘Roses are red, porridge is hot; but despite all our problems, I love you a lot.

Now you’d think, wouldn’t you, that St. Valentine himself must have been a famous lover; a wild, romantic figure with charm and an abundance of good looks? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but he was no such thing! In fact, no-one’s absolutely sure who he was, because he might have been one of two different Valentines. There was a Roman priest named Valentine who was martyred in 269AD on the Flaminian Way by the emperor Claudius; there was also another Valentine, the Bishop of Terni, who was also martyred on the outskirts of Rome in the reign of the same emperor.

Yet we still send cards, whatever our age and whether we’ve just fallen in love or whether it’s lasted fifty, sixty, seventy years even! Almost every Valentine card is mostly red – a colour which suggests warmth and love. The season of Lent can seem a colourless time – particularly since February is often a grey month in terms of weather. Perhaps, in spite of (or even because of) all the suffering we see around us, we can enable the mood of St. Valentine’s Day – with its sense of joy and love – to carry us into Ash Wednesday and begin Lent properly, in the frame of mind which sees love and springtime in the presence of God. Then Lent will truly be ‘lencten’, the ‘springtime of the soul: loving God, and letting God love us and renew us.

Prayer:

May the God who created signs of love, chocolate, cards and laughter,
shared stories and friendships, be with us.
May the God who embraced the vulnerable and healed the broken hearted, be with us.
May the God who challenges injustice and encourages us to love our neighbour, be with us.
And may we live our lives as Jesus lived, celebrating life in all its fullness. Amen.

Reflection © 2021 Barrie Tabraham.
Prayer adapted from one by Clare McBeath © 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd.

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