Love is a very interesting and thought provoking thing. Currently in he culture and context that we find ourselves in, love seems to be something that we particularly enjoy talking about or in some case marketing. My cause for concern is our willingness and speed in which we move to put love into action.
The team from Slovenia here in the Olympic Village have some nice coats that are lined with fur but the thing that stands out to many most isn’t the pastel colours or large fur hoods but the way that Slovenia has been spelt on the back of each members jacket. The country they represent is stitched across each athletes back the same way that I have entitled this post, with an emphasis on the middle portion of their countries name.
This past Sunday evening we were able to sit together as chaplains and athletes and share communion. One of our older chaplains shared with a story prior to our very relaxed distribution of the elements. He shared the story of a man name St.Valentine who in 270 A.D. was sentenced to death because Emperor Claudius had passed a law that the only God’s that were to be worshipped were the 12 Roman gods. This didn’t sit well with Valentine so he continued to worship his God and later was sentenced to his death.
During his time in prison he befriended the daughter of the jailer who was blind. The jailer knew that Valentine was a well studied man and he asked him if he would teach during his last days as much as he could to his daughter. Valentine agreed and he began to teach about the God that he knew and loved and he and the daughter would spend time together in worship and prayer. Suddenly, one evening, as they were praying a bright light filled the jail and the young girl exclaimed “I can see…I CAN SEE!” A true miracle had taken place. To that the daughter wrote to St. Valentine and she concluded her letter to him by saying, “you will always be my Valentine”. That letter was dated February 13th and the following day St.Valentine was beheaded for worshiping his God.
An incredible act of love I believe was shown in this story by Valentine. I would think myself being in his situation would rather wallow in my own self-pity and be left alone perhaps? And there in lies the problem I think even today. Our willingness to love is dependent on where we find ourselves or also how we feel about ourselves. Here’s what Paul writes to the church in Corinth…
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1st Corinthians 13:1-7 & 13
Love has a great purpose and its purpose can not be fulfilled without us participating in it. We went on this past Sunday evening to take part of the emblems and took some time to think of the Valentine that was first addressed to us so many years ago. The Bible even says that Christ’s act enables us to be able to LOVE others because we were first loved (1st John 4:19). How incredibly strong He must have been, or perhaps His certainty was enough for Him to be willing to give up his life for our sake. A man, who we read of in Matthew 26:36-46, who at the age off 33 years old who felt the stress and weight of the world on his shoulders and pleaded for His father to do it another way if He could but if it was not in accordance to “His Will” that he would still be obedient to what He had been sent to do. Sometimes I have caught myself complaining about my circumstances and wishing, pleading, or praying that it would change or perhaps go some other way NOT even considering that maybe, just maybe, God was about to something GREAT in the midst of it all.
I say all this perhaps to just say the following; I think that we have a responsibility as people to help put an emphasis back on LOVE. Maybe we could learn something from our friends here in the Athletes Village in Whistler from Slovenia (sLOVEnia)…