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Summary: The fifth sermon in the series ‘The People’s Choice Sermon Series.’

(Slide 1) Well it is Valentine week and it will be the first time since Susan and I have been married that I have been away over night on Valentine’s Day. But I will remember her on Valentine’s Day.

Gary Foster Consulting noted a year or so ago that of the ‘seven major gifting holidays, Valentine’s Day is the 3rd most widely gifted holiday after Christmas and Mother’s Day.

(Slide 2) Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day got started?

There are several different stories regarding St Valentine. According to Christianity Today, “St. Valentine was actually two people (that weren’t romantically involved) who were martyred on the same day (c. 270). Feasts commemorating them were celebrated on February 14. One was a priest and physician who died in Rome during the persecution of Christians by Claudius II Grothicus. The other was the bishop at Terni, Italy who was also martyred in Rome.”

And the article goes on to say that origin of exchanging valentines ‘is not thought to have any connection with the saint’s day. Rather it comes from an early European belief that the second week of February was when birds began to mate.’

According to Pastor Steve Miller it was the result of a priest named Valentine who stood up to the Roman Emperor Claudius because he (that is Claudius) banned marriage because he believed that men would stop volunteering to join the Roman army with wives and girlfriends to leave behind.

In the face of both hostility and even imprisonment for disobeying the Emperor, Valentine continued to perform weddings. He did so with a soft and quiet voice so that he could hear soldiers coming. He was eventually caught and jailed for the offense.

Many persons came to visit him in jail including some couples who he secretly married during their visit. The jailer’s daughter visited him often and expressed her support for Valentine and his stand.

On the day he was to be executed, Valentine left a note thanking the jailer’s daughter for her friendship and support and signed it, ‘Love from your Valentine.’ The date of this note and his death? February 14, 269 AD

In speaking of priests, Paul Durbin tells the following story of love and forgiveness amongst some monks on Valentine’s Day.

It seems that the monks at this remote monastery deep in the woods followed a rigid vow of silence. Their vow could only be broken once a year——on Valentine’s Day——by one

monk.

That monk could speak only one sentence. One Valentine’s Day, Brother Thomas had his turn to speak and said, "I love the delightful mashed potatoes we have every year with the Valentine’s Day Roast!" Then he sat down. Silence ensued for 365 days.

The next Valentine’s Day, Brother Michael got his turn and said, "I think the mashed potatoes are lumpy, and I truly despise them!" Once again, silence ensued for 365 days.

The following Valentine’s Day, Brother Paul rose and said, "I am fed up with this constant bickering!

Now, I don’t know about you, but what I get from these three stories is that (2a) love is an important expense, a costly commitment, and a patient attitude!

On this Valentine’s Sunday there are a couple of themes that I wish to weave together under our sermon title and our main text for this morning. The first theme is the theme of the wholeness, for lack of a better word, of our text that I call the Love of God. (Slide 3)

I must honestly tell you today that I cannot comprehend God’s love for me… in the words of the old hymn, ‘The Love of God,’ it is ‘vast, measureless, and strong.’ But I have experienced, and I continue to experience, God’s love in many, many ways: through my wife, my kids… you… my friends and family, as well as through my faith itself.

God’s love is overwhelming and grand. It is an engulfing cloud, a surging wave, it is a finely tuned instrument… it defines definition and description.

Last week I read to you from John 13:1 “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love.”

As we continue to read, Jesus then “got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

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