A message from the Rev’d Diana Netherway, Assistant Curate

Posted by Admin on Sunday, 24th January 2016, 19:28

 

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As I write this letter it is only two weeks since we celebrated the birthday of Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem. The popular carol goes ‘Love came down at Christmas.  Love all lovely, Love divine’. Jesus subsequently grew up and showed us what real love is and how it can change the world. It is the completely unselfish and unconditional love which is directed outward, showing care and compassion towards others and seeking no reward.
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Unfortunately society all too often displays the selfish kind of love which looks inward towards self and expects something in return. It may be the desire of ‘one good deed for another’ or the aim of getting ‘brownie points’ or even worse, ‘self-glorification’. This kind of love is displayed by people in all walks of life, no matter what colour, faith or creed. But the only kind of love which can change everything for the better is the unselfish, sacrificial love of Jesus.
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On February 14th we celebrate St Valentine, the patron saint of lovers. He was a Roman priest at a time when Emperor Claudius II was persecuting the Christian church. Claudius prohibited the marriage of young couples because he believed that unmarried soldiers fought better for not having wives and families to worry about. It was also a permissive society in which polygamy was much more popular than marriage. But Valentine encouraged them to marry within the Christian church and married them in secret against Claudius’ command not to. He was eventually caught and imprisoned. While in prison it is said that Valentine prayed with and healed the blind daughter of Asterius, one of the judges. It made such an impact on him that Asterius himself became a Christian.
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In 269 AD Valentine was sentenced to death because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter, which he signed ‘from your Valentine’. This is said to be the inspiration behind the romantic sentiments of what we now celebrate as Valentine’s Day. But while our thoughts of Valentine have invoked this more romantic side to our human thoughts and actions we should never forget that like many other saints and martyrs, Valentine stood up for his faith, his Christian values and principles, and in his desire to better the lives of others, in a completely unselfish and ultimately sacrificial way.
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Perhaps we might take a leaf from his book and when we see someone in need we lay aside our own selfish desires and help without expecting a favour in return. Maybe even put ourselves out along the way. We may never need to sacrifice our life – but we can sacrifice a little comfort, a few pounds or a few hours. This month don’t dwell on the cards, flowers, chocolates (although they will always be welcome!) but concentrate on the true meaning of unconditional, real love: Jesus thought we were worth it, I am sure your loved ones deserve it too.

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Diana

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