Pastor's Blog
February 1, 2018, 11:40 AM

February Blog


Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance.  That's what Valentine's Day is all about, right?  Well, maybe not.  Let's learn a little about the person behind this special day.

Here's one of the most traditional stories about St. Valentine.  Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time of emperor Claudius who persecuted the church.  Claudius had an edict prohibiting the marriage of young people because he believed unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers.  Claudius feared married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.

Of course, the church believed marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged.  So the edict immediately posed a problem for the church.  The idea of encouraging people to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine promoted and he secretly married couples in spite of the edict.  When emperor Claudius discovered that Valentine was performing weddings, he sent Valentine to jail.  Valentine used his time in jail to continue to reach out to people with the love he said Jesus Christ gave him for others.

While in prison one of the men who was to judge him according to the Roman law was a man named Asterius.  While discussing religion and faith with the Judge, Valentine would not renounce his belief in Jesus.  The Judge immediately put Valentine and his faith to the test.  Asterius brought his blind daughter to Valentine and told him to restore her sight.  If he succeeded, the Judge vowed to do anything for Valentine.  Placing his hands on her eyes, the girl was healed of her blindness.  Judge Asterius was humbled and obeyed Valentine's requests.  Asterius broke all the idols around his house, fasted for three days and became baptized, along with his family and entire 44-member household.  The now faithful Judge then freed all of his Chrisitan inmates.

Valentine was later arrested again for continuing to try to convert people to Christianity.  He was sent to Rome under the emperor Claudius.  In the year 269 AD on February 14, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of beating, stoning, and finally decapitation because of his stand for Christianity.  The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter who was healed of her blindness.  He inspired today's romantic cards, notes and letters by signing it, "from your Valentine."

Legends abound, but the example of Valentine shows us that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to stand firm in our faith sharing God's love and grace each day.  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we have the strength to do that no matter how the day unfolds.

This Valentine's Day is a special one because it is Ash Wednesday.  We will be gathering with others in our community for worship at 7:00 pm at The United Church on State Street here in Big Rapids.  This Valentine's Day marks the beginning of our 40-day Lenten journey (not counting Sundays) causing us to remember the gift of love and grace offered to us through Jesus death and resurrection.  This Lenten journey of love will hopefully, bring each one of us closer in our relationship with Christ.

May God strengthen your faith, solidify your hope in Christ and surround you with His love afresh and anew as you journey.

 

God bless you

Pastor Becky

 

 




December 30, 2017, 2:59 PM

January Blog


Why do we bother to make New Year's resolutions in the first place?  Why do we feel this need each January 1st to set new goals?  Maybe it is because resolutions help us to identify our priorities.  They answer the question:  how do I want to invest my time, energy, money, and talents in the New Year?  The New Year reminds us that time is passing and it is up to each of us to maximize the potential of every moment.

2018 is here!  A brand New Year is ready to unfold.  I like a list of resolutions prepared by the Rev. Walter Schoedel.  He calls them "7-UPS for the New year."  No, this has nothing to do with the soft drink.  These "7-UPS" fall under the heading of attitudes and actions.

#1  WAKE-UP - Begin the day with the Lord.  It is His day.  Rejoice in it.

#2  DRESS-UP - Put on a smile.  It improves your looks. It says something about your attitude.

#3  SHUT-UP - Watch your tongue.  Don't gossip.  Say nice things.  Learn to listen.

#4  STAND-UP - Take a stand for what you believe.  Resist evil.  Do good.

#5  LOOK-UP - Open your eyes to the Lord.  After all, He is your only Savior.

#6  REACH-UP - Spend time in prayer with your Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication to the Lord.  And finally, 

#7  LIFT-UP - Be available to help those in need serving, supporting, and sharing.

If you're going to make New Year's resolutions this year, let me suggest the above list.  Adding these "7-UPS" to your life will not only make a difference in you, they will impact others too.

May God bless you in 2018.

Pastor Becky

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