Thought for the Month (February 2017)

Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Right in the middle of February we celebrate Saint Valentine's Day. Very little is known about Saint Valentine. A man named Valentinus was martyred on 14th February late in the third century A.D. — this much we know – but almost everything else about Saint Valentine is based on supposition or tradition. Very few facts are known about this man who spawns a thousand pink and red cards/flowers/teddy bears/I (heart) U t-shirts. It is even rumoured that there are several Saint Valentines and we have merged them all together!

At this point I have to admit I am not a romantic. I am, however, a true believer that love is very important and that alongside faith and hope is key in our faith and in our lives. Not the soft and fuzzy love, the sentimental love portrayed in so many Valentine cards, but the love that is borne out of true experience; that helps us through difficult and challenging times; that helps make life fulfilling and joyful.

The Greeks have four main words for love whilst we only have one. So Phileō (companionable love), Agapē (the highest kind of love, the love of God for humankind and vice versa - used approximately 320 times in the New Testament but seldom used outside this) and Storgē (familial love between members of a family, or colleagues, or even that which pet owners feel towards their animals), are all translated as "love" even though they have slightly different meanings.

So as we "celebrate" Saint Valentine's day 2017 may we give thanks for the love in our lives. The love of friends and family, the love of sisters and brothers at church, and most of all the love of God for each and every one of us.

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Rev. Helen Warmington

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church