Well, it’s February 14th, and we all know what that means – Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those special days that seems to change as we get older. Remember when you were in first grade and Valentine’s Day was approaching? Probably your Mom or Dad took you to the store and bought you a small box of Valentine’s to sign and give to the kids in your class. And I don’t know about you, but I made sure that everyone in the class got one.
Each year, we took time after lunch to deliver our special cards to everyone in our class at Sutherland Grammar School, in Beverly, on the south side of Chicago. When there was a special girl in class, or a special teacher in my room, I took great care in making sure that they received a hand-picked Valentine from the package that my parents got for me. In fact, and please don’t think there was anything weird about this, you gave Valentines to both boys and girls – and I remember that it was just a sweet time in the early years of grammar school. Janet and I were just talking about the old days and she even remembers that in her class it was customary to have a box on your desk that people could come by and put your Valentine into – kind of like your own personal mailbox.
Our class didn’t do it quite like that. We all got up and walked around the room and just laid the carefully sealed envelopes on the desks of our classmates. But I remember what a disappointment it was if I didn’t receive cards from everyone in the class. Most of the time this didn’t happen, but every once in a while, there was someone who would only give out a few cards and then those of us who didn’t receive anything really felt bad.
Of course, as we got older, Valentines started to take on special meaning. The day signified a time when you took a girl out on a date and gave her a small bouquet of flowers or a little gift. Generally, it was the popular people in class who celebrated Valentine’s Day more than the rest of us. But when I was nineteen, Janet and I got engaged on Christmas Eve of 1972, and believe it or not, I remember the following Feb. 14th, in 1973, when she was working at her father’s office on the 13th floor of the Monadnock Building. I stopped by after my university classes were done for the day to give her a Valentine’s Day present – a small, fat, gold heart on a thin gold chain. I had purchased the gift from Bill Gunther, a man who owned a jewelry store and pawn shop in downtown Chicago. The Gunther family had been friends of my grandfather and I remember that I paid $80 for the gold heart. I don’t have the faintest idea how I still remember that, but today, I saw it around Janet’s neck. What memories it brings back…..
A number of years later, I gave Janet a red Baccarat heart for Valentine’s Day. She usually forgets to wear it around this time of year, but last Sunday, I reminded her about it and when we went out Sunday afternoon, she had it on! How things seem to change from years gone by. Another example of how Janet and I have changed is that we almost never go out on Valentine’s Day. It used to be that we went to dinner or to a show but now, the day holds more fundamental meaning for us than the overt external examples of appreciation we used to demonstrate to one another. And it seems that the years click by faster and faster.
By no means do we love each other any less than we used to – in fact, it is quite the opposite. But we revel in the deep knowledge of our love for one another rather than the cursory dinner or movie on the 14th. Another habit we have cultivated is to make sure that we send Valentine’s Day cards to our children, and their children. Even though our kids know that we love them, it is another little way that we show that we are remembering them and their families. My mother used to send us cards each year as well. In fact, not so long ago, I found the first Valentine’s Day card my mother ever gave me, on Feb 14, 1954 when I was less than 1 year old. I still have it…..
You know, God wants you to be His Valentine this year. He has even given you a card reminding you of His love for you – it’s called the Bible. The verse for tonight is from Romans 8:39, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So there you have it – your own Valentine’s Day invite from God. My encouragement is to let you know that God loves you more than you can possibly know. And my prayer is that you will be His Valentine – today and everyday, throughout all eternity….. Have a great day in the Lord..