February brings heart shapes everywhere – cards, sweets, ornaments, cushions, I’ve even seen heart shaped crumpets. St. Valentine has become the patron saint of love and around his festival on the 14th we are inundated with symbols of love everywhere. Of course, once the 15th arrives all those symbols will have been eaten, recycled, discarded, or perhaps put away as keepsakes – and the remainder in the shops will be sold off at a discount.
Romantic love is a wonderful thing while it lasts, and can be the foundation for lasting, mutual care and relationships, but like the cards and gifts, chocolate and crumpets, it is often soon gone or sold cheap. But love is very important: – love of family, friends, neighbours, all humankind, as individuals, as groups, love for creation, for all life on our planet, for ourselves. Without love, which gives us a focus, a passion, a reason to act positively for others we would miss so much that is good in our lives. Real love is not cheap, easy, or disposable, it’s not always shiny or fluffy or tasty; it can be difficult, unrewarding, costly, and unrelenting but as the song goes what use is a world without love?
The Bible has much to say about love – asking us to love one another, to love God and to love ourselves. It tells us to love because God loved us first and God’s love is unconditional – that love doesn’t care who we are, what we look like, what we have done, whether we are rich or poor or have a GSOH (good sense of humour). God’s love is never-ending and we can never do anything to earn it, or do anything that will stop it. For those of us who follow a faith, we are asked to share that love, to pass it on and follow God’s example. That’s not always easy, and we often fail because we are human, not divine.
If you find it hard to love, or feel you fail at times, the passage below offers some guidance, and a reminder of just how much we are loved by the one who will never stop loving us.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
May you know just how much you are loved and may you share that love with everyone you meet not just this Valentine’s Day but always.