Do you remember celebrating Valentine’s Day back in grade school? Perhaps I shouldn’t assume that everyone’s experience was similar to my own. But in my school, we spent several days decorating shoe boxes to hold our valentines. And then – when the big day finally came – every student brought valentines for everybody else. I can’t remember if we were told that this is what we had to do – or if it just never occurred to us to leave anybody out. But either way, everyone got included. Everyone received these tangible reminders of love and friendship.
It strikes me that our celebration of Valentine’s Day seems to become a whole lot more selective as we get older. We might give a valentine to our sweetheart – or our family members – or even a few close friends. But we rarely seek to make sure that everyone gets included. And I understand why, of course. Most of us couldn’t afford to give valentines to everyone we know. And even if we could, Wal-Mart doesn’t really sell boxes of inexpensive valentines that would be appropriate for adults to give to their coworkers, neighbors, clients and friends.
But still. Maybe there’s something admirable and praise-worthy in those Valentine’s Day habits of my childhood. After all, the Bible tells us that when God wanted to give a tangible reminder of love and friendship, “He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever (i.e. everyone) who believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). So maybe—if we want to take a “God-minded” approach to Valentine’s Day this year—we’ll look for the people who might not get included. Maybe we’ll make a little list of the forgotten, and the lonely, and the ones whose lives are all-too-devoid of celebration. And then maybe we’ll figure out: What tangible reminders of love and friendship could I give – that would help to insure that everybody gets included.
I hope that you get lots of valentines on Valentine’s Day. (Sadly, you probably won’t get one from me. After all, there are 550 of you in our church alone; and my “card budget” just wouldn’t be able to cover everyone.) But even more, I pray that you give lots of valentines. “Do you mean Valentine’s cards?” someone might ask. Well…maybe. But even more, “Valentine’s deeds” that share with others the love that we’ve received.