February is a very unique and remarkable month with all kinds of events and characteristics that set it apart. For one, it is the shortest month of the year with only 28 days, or sometimes 29, but not this year. And yet with the cold and snow and darkness it often seems like the longest!
But there are many highlights to be experienced in this short month. First there is Groundhog Day, February 2, a unique holiday that so far has not been captured by Hallmark Cards or advertising companies. On Groundhog Day the whole nation awaits word as Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his winter hibernation to check on his shadow. No matter what he sees, the day marks the half way point of winter. That is certainly worth celebrating during this week of sub-zero temperatures!
Then there is Presidents' Day. It used to be two days, February 12 for Abraham Lincoln and February 22 for George Washington. Now it is just one, and it moves around to land on a Monday, so that some folks get a long weekend to celebrate. This year it is February 18.
But of course the Big Event in February is St Valentine's Day, named for a Third Century Roman, the patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages. Not much is known about him, but legend has it that he was once arrested for illegally performing a marriage ceremony for a couple in order to help the young groom avoid military service.
For us these many centuries later, Valentine's Day is an occasion to send messages of love to people we care about.
The great creator and source of all love is God. God's love for us God's children is a message proclaimed throughout the pages of the Bible:
The great definition of love in chapter 4 of I John: "Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God, and one who loves is born of God and knows God... for God is love... Whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him... We love because God first loved us."
What a great verse to remember in this winter month brightened by a day in which we express our love for one another. God is the source of all love, our love for God and our love for one another. It is God's love that creates and empowers our love.
Knowing that we are beloved children of God we can relax in the assurance that our true inner self is safe, as the old hymn says, we are "safe and secure from all alarms." So we need "have no anxiety about anything" the Apostle Paul tells us. "In Christ I can do all things." Nothing can defeat us, even death. Christ has conquered death.
This knowledge gives us strength and courage to do the right thing in any and all circumstances that confront us. We are empowered to stand against wrongs that we encounter and to stand against the injustices of our world,
Our valentine from God is not a sentimental message, but a call to courage and strength as we lean on God's love for us.
Happy Valentine's Day; and Happy February!