"St. Valentine's Day" - February 14th, 2021
"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."
1 John 4:7-8
Message of Stewardship
from Linda Kerns
One of the first things that struck me about COV and Little Brown Church when I started attending back in the early 90s was the church community’s social conscience.
Those of you who are old enough will recall with sorrow the AIDS epidemic that was so deadly at the time. I had lost a great number of friends to that horrible disease. And the first thing I did when I started coming to church here was to attend the newly formed AIDS support group, which later became the Dana Landers AIDS support group, so named after the passing of one of the leaders and founders of the group.
The group was formed not only for those living with AIDS but also for their friends and families. I didn't know how much I needed that group in my life. It gave me the opportunity to help some of the others who needed aid, but also to be served by the compassion and loving hearts of others in the group.
Currently COV and LBC serve the community in many other ways. The Tijuana Home Build, the Green Team, the Fetty Food Pantry, and the children's programming and much, much more. While some of our ministries have had to be put on hold due to the Covid restrictions, we continue our commitment to Sunday worship services, our music program, and our children's program by taking all of these online.
If you would like to contribute to our ministries, there are three ways to do that.
Drop off a check in the box that Little Brown Church, bring or mail your check to the COV office, or you can use PayPal here on our website.
Pastor Michael's Sermon - February 14th, 2021
History.com is a source of interesting facts about figures from the past, and one of those figures is Saint Valentine. In one article, we're told six surprising facts about Saint Valentine.
First of all, did you know that Valentine's Day may have come about because of two different men? Traditionally we think of St. Valentine as a man who died in the year 270, but today there are many who doubt that he was the Saint Valentine on which today's holiday is based.
Some people believe that Valentine was a temple priest who was beheaded in the 1400s for helping Christians to be married. And others believe that Valentine was the Bishop of Terni.
Another fun fact, did you know that the Catholic Church recognizes about a dozen St. Valentines? Apparently that was a very popular name and there was even a Pope that was named Saint Valentine, but he only served for about 40 days in the year 800.
The Saint Valentine that we celebrate today is called by the Catholic Church St. Valentine of Rome to set him apart from all the other St. Valentines.
Another fact! Valentine is the Patron Saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, the plague, fainting, traveling, and two that might make more sense, engaged couples and happy marriages.
Fact number four! St. Valentine's skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome. Other parts of his skeleton can be found in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England, and France. The man really got around!
Did you know that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer may have been the one to actually invent Valentine's Day? He wrote a poem in 1375 that linked for the first time romantic love with a celebration of St. Valentine’s Feast Day. The poem referred to February 14th, the day that birds and humans come together to find a mate.
And today's final fact about Valentine's Day. Because of the many different St. Valentine's, this holiday can actually be celebrated many different times in the year. You can celebrate Saint Valentine of Viterbo on November 3rd, or Saint Valentine of Raetia on January 7th, or you can celebrate the only female Saint Valentine on July 25th. So many choices, so much chocolate!
Well, that's a lot to take in about Valentine's Day, but there's one thing that we can be sure of. Regardless of who St. Valentine was, or how many of them there were,
or when the holiday came about, or how it came about, or when we can celebrate it, the one thing we know for sure is that Valentine's Day is about love.
The scriptures talk a lot about love. Some of the greatest and most well-known of the passages in the Bible are of course about love, including God so loved the world! But among all of the discussion that we find about love, one of my favorites is today's scripture. I'm drawn to it because of its richness in describing love and how it draws an illustration uniting love with God.
It starts out with a charge. With a calling.
“Beloved, let us love one another.”
How wonderful that it begins referring to those that John is addressing as beloved. In doing so he reminds us that we are already loved. And then he goes on to say, “Let us love one another.” In other words you who are already loved by God, now pass that love onto others.
And then he explains why. “Because love is from God.” He says, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
When we practice love, we are acknowledging God. We are lifting up God. Then he follows this up by pointing out that whoever does not love, does not know God. And this makes so much sense. This makes sense because if we do not love, then we must be unaware of the overwhelming abundance of God's love that envelops each of us. Because if we can feel the existence of even a fraction of that love it's almost impossible that we are unable to share that love.
The only way to be unaware of how much we are loved is to truly not know God.
And that is a choice that is made. To not know God is a choice and a wall that is personally built. A mighty wall that is able to sadly block out even the greatest presence, even the greatest love.
And then John ends with simply saying, “for God is love.” Love is not only something that God shares, but when God shares love, God is sharing of God’s self. When we feel the love of God around us, we are actually feeling God around us. God shares God's self in the form of love, therefore when we share love with one another, we share God with one another.
No matter what kind of love it is. Romantic, love of family, friends, love of humanity. All love is the presence of God.
So when John tells us to love one another or for that matter when Christ tells us to love one another, we are being called to experience God within one another and to share God between one another.
In 1938, some researchers from Harvard University decided to try to find the answer to a very profound question. They wanted to know what habits lead to a fulfilling life. So they gathered 268 people and for the next 75 years they studied these people. The researchers looked at characteristic surrounding psychology, physical traits, economy, and spirituality. The experiment was called the Grant Study and it became the longest-running study of human development.
Finally in 2012, with many of the participants well into their 90s, the study came to a close. And George Vaillant, who was at the time the director of the study, published a book called Triumphs of Experience, and in the book he wrote about the results of the study regarding the habits that lead to a fulfilling life. And after all of these years of research what they found was that there are several things that somewhat contribute.
They include education, stable marriage, healthy lifestyle choices, several things that you might expect. But the study also also showed something else. Although other factors contributed to a vibrant life, the only factor that really matters and that is absolutely necessary is love. The study concluded that the capacity to love and to be loved is the point of our human existence. George found that they wrote the only thing that really matters in life is your relation to other people.
Part of me is really glad they did this study. Another part of me thinks, you needed a study to come up with this conclusion? And this is something that Christ has been telling us since he walked on this Earth, but I guess sometimes humans just need to prove things for themselves.
Love is so important to each of us as a humanity because love is the presence of God. Love is the sharing of God. On this day as we celebrate love let us be reminded to allow ourselves to experience the warmth of God's love. Let us take a moment and stop and really feel God's presence in, around, and through us. That indescribable love that is within all of us. Let us experience that love. Appreciate it and live within it and then allow it to pour forth from us, filling the hearts of those around us, allowing all to feel the presence of God. Allowing all to understand that truly God is love.
Holy God, we thank you for your son who taught us to love. Remind us to continue
to share that love and in doing so we share you. It's in your son's name we pray.