Ah, Valentine’s Day! Could any one 24-hour period be more deeply cherished and heartily despised? (doubtful). Commercializing it in a sea of red, pink, and white, businesses ramp up immediately after Christmas for a manic spending spree, depleting candy aisles, greeting cards shelves, chocolatiers’ glass cases, and florists of their bouquets, but happily filling coffers. Cupid has made his way into this marketing maelstrom, too, invitingly adorning all things Feb. 14. On a non-cynical note, it is a day touted as a celebration of that great, much-sung, much-poetized word, love. And, close, loving relationships, be they in married couples, families, or friends, benefit from a reminder, at the very least, one time every twelve months. (for them to stay close and loving, it is highly recommended (by me!) that they be celebrated far more frequently!)

Many of us reading this find ourselves within arm’s reach of the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, The Bible. From beginning to end, its sixty-six books paint a picture of a Creator Who loves His creation with a love which has never been painted satisfactorily in words or in art. So, if we celebrate love on this day each year, it is not because of a 3rd century Roman priest and saint and martyr, but because God designed our love to be a reflection of His love, the love which set the whole world in motion.

God is portrayed as a Holy, Jealous Lover, ready and willing to ardently pursue and summarily punish those who would harass and harm his beloved. His story never shies away from romantic and sexual imagery to describe the relationship of God with His people. The Old Testament book, The Song of Songs, is highly lovers-erotic, an intimate honeymoon tale, so thought to arouse sensual feelings that it has been banned reading in some circles (not ours!), and considered inappropriate reading for those who are young and/or single. We read in the New Testament that it was God’s intense love for the world that sent His Son on mission. Jesus ultimately unveiled his self-sacrificing love on Calvary (yes, love dies willingly for the beloved) and through the empty tomb (his perfect love resoundingly defeated both sin and the grave and brought him back to continue sharing his love with us). Those who follow Jesus, the Lover of their Souls, are called his Church, his Bride. He is the Groom coming back for the marriage and the celebrative Wedding Supper. And we’re invited! Valentine’s Day? Sure! OK. But the Love of God reigns in our hearts 365 and floods over us onto others that whole time. Chocolate, roses and champagne? Sure. OK. But beyond these ooshy-gooshy, smoochy-smoochy, sometimes tacky, 24 hours, is Premium, High Octane Love ever-flowing from the Creator to His Bride. His is Love Divine, all (other) Loves Excelling! I’ll raise a glass to that!  PD

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