We have very little reliable knowledge about Saint Valentine, a third century Roman Catholic Priest upon whose life, the little bit we know of it, we have built a worldwide holiday that will net $19.6 billion dollars this year.  Valentine’s Day is the busiest holiday of the year and ranks fourth in retail sales.

No one is quite sure how this happened.  We do know that the Roman Emperor, Claudius, prohibited young people from marrying, because, in his opinion, single men were better warriors.  They did not have to worry about wives and children, when they went to fight.

Valentine, this soft hearted, sympathetic priest, defied Claudius’ decree by marrying couples secretly.  On February 14, he was beheaded for his infraction of the law, later becoming known as “The Patron Saint of Lovers.”

It wasn’t until the high middle ages, historically associated with courtly love,  that someone came up with the idea of celebrating Saint Valentine and his martyrdom.  O, through the centuries, his death had been celebrated in churches, but this was different.  Now he would be remembered for his kindness and regard for lovers.  Thus was born Valentine’s Day as we know it.

I can’t help but reflect on Valentine Days in the past.  Remember those “beautifully” decorated classroom boxes?  I used lots of lacey, paper doilies and gallons of paste fabricating valentines for my classmates.  It was an exciting day.

In the fifth grade, I was in love.  There was brown eyed, dark haired Ronny and blue eyed, blond haired Keith.  I couldn’t choose, so I just loved them both from afar.  A Valentine from either of them became a treasured possession.

When I was an eighth-grader, I really was in love.  David walked me to school and carried my books.  I dreamed such wonderful dreams about him.  Then he moved away and took the dreams with him.

My church always threw a grand Valentine banquet each year.  The promo declared that the banquet was for everyone—married, unmarried, sweetheart or not.  For years I went hoping they were telling the truth.  However, in spite of the promises, everything was tailor-made for sweethearts.  I finally gave up on Valentine’s Day and Valentine banquets.

A few moments ago, I took a file out of the cabinet here by my desk.  It is marked “Cards to and from Cecil.” The file contains the first, last, and only Valentine that I ever received from my husband.  Cecil’s cards were usually sloppy with sentiment, but this time he chose a cute, funny one.  It says, “You are sweeter than a Pina Colada, more beautiful than a piano sonata, you are the whole enchilada, and I love you because “I just gotta!”  I honestly would have preferred the sloppy, sentimental card, but it would have made me cry today.  However, on a day when I really need to laugh, this card makes me laugh.  God surely must have known.

Cecil and I spent our only Valentine’s Day together on a boat off the coast of Maui.  It was a warm sunshiny day.  A slight breeze whipped up frothy meringue on the edge of the gentle waves.  There was fabulous food and live music.  Mostly, we just sat quietly holding hands and grinning at each other.  Somehow it was noised around that we were newlyweds.  There was a steady stream of people coming to congratulate us, offer a drink, or just a friendly smile.

There is no one here today.  The phone doesn’t ring, and there are no lacey valentines.  But I’m all right.  I have my sweet, goofy memories and the knowledge that I am not truly alone.   For God, who sustains me continually, has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and He is my closest friend—closer than my brother.   In fact, He has promised to be my husband.

Isaiah 54:5, speaking to Israel, says, “For your maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  He is called the God of the whole earth.”  Think of that!

On this day for lovers, God will be to you everything that you are longing for.  If you are alone today, I pray you will remember how very much God loves you.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.