Valentine’s Day Origin

I always assumed that Valentine’s Day was literally started by Hallmark cards, Hershey’s, FTD Flowers, or some other business that needed to boost its bottom line to sell more product. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s create a holiday where everyone is obligated to buy cards, candy and flowers once a year.

There are even entire industries, with their own infomercials that exist solely surrounding Valentine’s Day. My favorite being the Big Hunk of Love at Vermont Teddy Bear. Every year I threaten Melinda that I made the call, and one is on the way. I mean really, who doesn’t dream of having a six foot tall bear hanging around the house.

But it turns out I was wrong. Valentine’s Day actually has a uniquely Christian origin. With that said, my guess is that you have no idea what part of Christian history it actually links to. From a commentary, written by Chuck Colson way back in 1999, here’s the story.

Early church records are sketchy, but it’s believed several men named Valentine were martyred in the third century A.D. This was during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, a ruler known for his brutal persecution of Christians.

One of these Valentines was a priest who secretly married couples against the wishes of Claudius, who believed that unmarried men made better soldiers. Two other Valentines—a priest and a bishop—were beheaded by Claudius late in the third century.

Historians are not certain which Valentine it was we celebrate on February 14. But they are certain why the church chose that day. You see, in ancient Rome, February 14 was the eve of a pagan festival called Lupercalia. During this festival, the Romans worshiped Februa, a goddess of marriage, childbirth, and sexuality.

Brian Bates, a professor at the University of Sussex, is an expert on how we celebrate holidays. Bates writes that during Lupercalia, “Young men and women drew lots for sexual partners in preparation for a day of sanctioned license the following day.”

As Christianity spread throughout the ancient world, the church began replacing pagan festivals with holy days. In an effort to control the lewder aspects of the Lupercalian festival, the church fathers replaced this pagan holiday with the feast of Saint Valentine, in honor of one of the martyred Christians. Instead of drawing the names of sexual partners out of a box, young men were encouraged to pick the names of saints—and then spend the following year emulating the saint whose name they drew.

So how about that? Valentine’s Day actually links back to the early Christian Saints, and how their martyrdom dramatically illustrates their love of God. Somehow, a Hershey’s Kiss, and a big Teddy Bear no longer seems appropriate.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:7, 9

Relentless

Relentless

The dictionary definition of relentless is; oppressively constant; incessant; unyielding in severity; unrelenting; steady and persistent. All of that describes the four friends of the paralyzed man in Mark chapter two. Who, though faced with what seemed to be insurmountable odds, persisted until they reached their desired goal.

Let’s imagine the scene. The news begins spreading rapidly though out Capernaum that Jesus was coming to town. His reputation preceded Him. There was no doubt about it. Jesus could perform miracles. In an instant, learning where Jesus would be, four of the paralyzed man’s friends picked him up and hurried off to meet Jesus. But, when they arrived they had to be hugely disappointed. Who would have thought that this many people would be there already? It was jam-packed. Now what are they going to do?

The worst part was that through this whole ordeal, they saw a sparkle in their friend’s eyes for the very first time that revealed a hope he had long since buried. The hope that he might someday walk again. This hope, for the friend they loved, resulted in an unrelenting determination that ultimately achieved the desired goal. There’s no giving up now. We’ve got to do whatever it takes, while we’ve got the opportunity, to see our friend get the miracle we came here for.

Quick, what’s our plan? I’ve got an idea. Let’s take him up on the roof and dig a hole big enough to lower him down right on top of Jesus. What? Are you kidding me? No time to question the plan, it’s our only shot. Quick, let’s go!

They were relentless. They found a way where there seemingly was no way. They refused to be denied. They were persistent in faith. Why? Because they knew that more than anything else in life, their friend wanted to walk. And, they knew that Jesus was the only way that was going to happen. Jesus was the only solution!

And it happened, just as they imagined. Seeing his faith, Jesus said, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

So, I have two questions. One, do you have a friend that has a problem that only Jesus can solve? And two, do you love that friend enough to be relentless in doing whatever it takes to bring them to Jesus?

“He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:12