Saint Valentine was a Christian martyr who lived in the third century AD. While the exact details of his life and death are not well-known, there are several different legends and stories associated with him. One popular legend is that Saint Valentine was a priest who helped couples marry during a time when the Roman Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages. The emperor believed that unmarried men made better soldiers and when Valentine was eventually discovered, he was executed for disobeying the emperor's orders.  
In some ways, Saint Valentine’s actions don’t seem all that uncommon because Christians, particularly during the early days of Christianity, were known for their compassion and care for others. They would often take in the poor, the sick, and the marginalized, providing them with food, shelter, and medical care. Over the years Christians have been known to establish hospitals, shelters, soup kitchens, and orphanages to care for those in need. In the early days of Christianity, the Church had such a strong emphasis on community and mutual aid, that members of the community would pool their resources to support one another. This spirit of care and concern for others was more than just a reflection of their faith and the teachings of Jesus, but it was the reason that Christianity grew to be the most popular faith in the world today. Christians were so uncommonly committed to care for others that others watched and said, “I’m not sure what it is that they believe, but I want what they have.”  
As Christians, it is our duty to continue this commitment to care for others and love our neighbors as ourselves. Not just because people like Saint Valentine have done it in the past, but because it is the command that Jesus gives us: “But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).  
How are you responding to this command from our Lord? We can love and care for others in so many ways. When was the last time you shared an act of kindness with someone, visited someone who was sick, or offered a listening ear to a friend? Maybe you prefer to volunteer your time to a worthy cause or offer help to those in need. Donations of time or money to the food bank is a favorite way that many of us choose to show our love for others. Sometimes the biggest impact can come from the everyday ways that we reach out to those who are struggling emotionally or financially and offer support and encouragement.  
Perhaps the early Christians who became known for their acts of love were motivated by reading 1 John 3:18: “Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.” I pray that we are each known by others for our acts of kindness and love. I hope that Vinje has a reputation around the community for loving others. As we celebrate love this month, let us remember that love is not just a feeling or an emotion; it's a choice. It's a choice to put others first and to actively demonstrate our love through our actions and deeds. It's a call to love in truth and to love in deed.

Pastor Justin