As my inbox full of advertisements – special coupons, dinner deals, last-minute gift options – tells me, it’s Valentine’s Day. And although I’m spending it at home with my valentine (a 50-pound pitbull mix), the narrative around this day is hard to escape. Flowers! Romance! Candy! Chocolates! Cards and gifts!
This year, one of the places I shop asked if I wanted to receive their emails about Valentine’s Day, or if I would rather opt out, and not be bothered, or burdened, by reminders of the day. Even though I didn’t exercise the option, I have to say I was surprised and grateful that an online merchandiser would be that thoughtful about their customers.
The truth is, this is a complicated day, whether you’re partnered or not. I’ve seen more of a movement lately to take the pressure and expectations out of the day, but like it or not they are still in the ether, still alive and well in the culture around us.
So I wanted to take a minute today, of all days, and sit with a familiar passage from scripture, perhaps one of our best-known ones, 1 Corinthians 13. One of the few passages that talks explicitly about love. As I reminded our WCC kids a few weeks ago, it talks about God’s love for us.
And as I often do with a familiar passage, I prefer looking at this from a couple of different translations.
First, from the New Living Testament:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
And again, from the Message translation:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
On this day when we get a lot of messages about love, I invite you to hold this message first. This is the love God has for us. Patient and kind, rejoicing in the truth, trusting, hopeful, enduring. No matter how we woke up today, how we rise to the challenges of this particular Monday (or don’t), how we treat others, how we talk to ourselves…this is God’s love for us. It never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
Now put that on a chocolate heart.