I write this column on Valentine’s Day. As I reflect about previous Valentine’s Days, I remember school days when we, children, would decorate a shoe box, cut a slit in the top, set our box on the windowsill and wait for other children to drop a Valentine’s Day card into our boxes. Everyone had a box. Everyone received cards from everybody. It was a rule. It was nice.
I also recall when Ted, my husband-to-be, and I were dating and engaged; Valentine’s Day was a big deal. Relationships deepened or deep-ended depending on the sentiment of the card, the gift and the date. After many years of marriage and extremely busy schedules, our emphasis on Valentine’s Day faded. Ted and I loved each other; but our love and our appreciation of our spouse did not rely upon an external expression. Sorry about that, Hallmark.
Now, eons after elementary school, decades from dating and years after my husband’s death on Feb. 12, cards of bright colors, poems sappy in sentiment, and love letters are almost things of the past. Almost, things of the past. The expressions of love I receive now do not come through the mail, over the internet, or are delivered by hand. The expressions of love with which I am gifted come not only on Valentine’s Day but every day — every time, I open The Bible. These personal and intimate divine expressions of love, regard, comfort, understanding and guidance are available to everyone and at any time.
To emphasize this, when people gather to worship at the First United Methodist Church, a bulletin is provided with helpful information and the order of the service. The words that are printed in the bulletin when it is time to read the scripture passage/s selected for the day are “Opening God’s Letter of Love.”
Work with me and this image of The Bible as God’s long letter of love to you, to me — to us. Any letter of love is opened with excitement, joy and anticipation; so, too, does God’s letter of love. Any letter of love begins with a statement of endearment; so, too, does God’s letter of love; “My dearest, my beloved, I have longed to communicate with you and share the things that are important upon my heart.” Any letter of love offers assurance of the author’s regard; so, too, does God’s letter of love; “You are my delight and my joy; share with me. Know that what brings you joy also brings me happiness and what is troubling you also concerns me. How can we work through this together?” Any letter of love concludes with a statement of the sacrifice the author would go to for love such as I would climb the highest mountain or hike the hottest desert; so, too, does God’s letter of love; “I am willing to die for you so that you might live. I am not only willing; but, I did.”