Everybody knows what husbands ought to do for Valentine’s Day. We either wrap up a box of Godiva chocolates, or arrange a dozen roses, or wine and dine our sweetheart at her favorite restaurant. And really good husbands do all three. I’ll pick this up again later – I need to run to the florist and make dinner reservations.
Might you be familiar with the legend behind Valentine’s Day? with the operative term here, being “legend,” because nobody knows for sure. There are several versions.
I prefer the version – because it makes for a really great story – that takes us back to the 3rd century AD when the Roman Emperor Claudius arrested an obscure priest named Valentine. Why his arrest? If this version of the legend holds true, then two reasons account for his incarceration: 1st, Valentine was spreading the Christian message, which made the Emperor furious. But 2nd, Claudius became even more enraged when he earned that Valentine was defying his decree that forbade his soldiers from marrying. (Claudius believed married men made for bad soldiers.) Believing this edict to be unjust, Valentine arranged secret marriages. So, between his spreading of the Gospel and secretly uniting soldiers in wedlock, Claudius threw him in jail.
Now here’s where the story takes two divergent tracks, but both make for the great stuff of legend: the 1st track unveils that while he served his time in prison, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. The 2nd track reports that he performed a miracle in giving sight to the jailer’s blind daughter. But how much better a legend, if both are true!
Whatever may be the actual case, we do know Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, perhaps in the year 269 AD. But moments before he was led out to the place of execution, he handed the jailer’s daughter a note, which he signed, “from your Valentine.”
We all love a love story, even the tragic ones, like the 1970 film by the same name. (It was tragic for me too, because the girl I took to see the movie, never went out with me again.) But there’s one love story that you won’t like. Why not come out this Sunday to hear more about the messed-up relationship between the biblical couple, Hosea and Gomer?