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Patron saint of the obscure

We actually don’t know very much about St. Valentine.

We know that he was martyred for his Christian faith under the Emperor Claudius II on February 14th, c. 270 A.D. We know that later Christians held that he was both a priest and doctor—like our Lord, a healer both of bodies and souls.

And we know that Valentine supposedly sought to comfort his jailer’s daughter by jotting an encouraging note for her, with some stories adding that it was on “an irregularly-shaped piece of paper.” (Let the reader understand.)

But despite all that we don’t know about Valentine, he is now arguably one of the most well-known saints in all of Christendom—right up there with Patrick and Nicholas. This seeming contradiction has a valuable lesson to teach us.

People and actions that are forgettable in the sight of the world are often what our God cherishes.

None forgotten

In his book Celebrating the Saints, LCMS pastor Rev. Will Weedon articulates that lesson this way: “God remembers what people forget.”

Think of the Israelite midwives who defied Pharaoh's order to snuff out the Hebrew babies (Exodus 1.15-22), or Mary's humble anointing of the Lord's feet; as Jesus said at the time
, "Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her" (Matthew 26.12). These people and actions, so forgettable in the sight of the world, are what our God cherishes. 

So also in the case of St. Valentine. Weedon continues:

Baptized into Christ, marked with the holy cross as the Lord’s own, fed with the body and blood of the Savior, Valentine lived and served, loved and died a witness to the invincible love of God in Christ Jesus. God remembers His saints across the ages, even the multitude of His own who never end up with a commemoration in the Church’s calendar. Not one is forgotten.

Such is the mercy of our Savior, who remembers even the sparrow! 

"Patron saint” of the obscure 

As Lutherans, we don't really subscribe to the idea of "patron saints"—that is, the notion that some saints provide supernatural support to God's people in particular walks of life. We can nevertheless imaginatively adapt the concept, leaving out the veneration aspect. And to me, if St. Valentine were to be patron of anything, it's neither love nor greeting cards; it's obscurity

Weedon goes on to quote from the 5th century Christian leader Gelasius, who wrote that Valentine is among those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” I find this greatly comforting. Nothing is lost on God. No toiling in obscurity, no anonymous gift, no unheralded kindness escapes the notice of “your Father who sees in secret” (Matthew 6.4).

St. Valentine, patron saint of the obscure, reminds us that the smallest kindnesses—even a “cup of cold water for one of these little ones”—are heroic acts in God’s kingdom. And who knows? Perhaps hundreds of years from now people will be giving candy and bouquets in your remembrance as well.

Okay, maybe we can do without the candy.

Sunday's sermon

What is the role of good works in the Christian life? In Sunday's sermon, I considered their paradoxical place in our faith.
Listen to Sunday's sermon

News & Notes

  • We had a nice turnout for the potluck last night, enjoying some incredibly delicious treats as well as time for unhurried conversation. Big shout-out to Yolanne Leno and the ladies Bible study for organizing this fun time of food & fellowship. Check out some pictures here
  • There's buzz around the area about Bear Lake making a pitch to HGTV for their new series, "Hometown Takeover." That's got me wondering how we would pitch Arcadia. What do you love best about our fair community? Best of luck to our neighbors to the east! 
  • Maybe you heard the news that Concordia University-Portland has announced its imminent closure, effective this spring. This is shocking and saddening news. Anne is an alumnus of the school, and apart from our personal connections to the institution this is a great loss for our church body—not to mention the current student body, faculty, and staff. Please keep all these folks in your prayers! 

From the Church Year

Today the Church Year commemorates Aquila, Priscilla, & Apollos, missionaries. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"Aquila and his wife Priscilla (Prisca), Jewish contemporaries of St. Paul, traveled widely. Because of  persecution in Rome, they went to Corinth where they met the apostle Paul, who joined them in their trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:1-3). They, in turn, joined him in his mission of proclaiming the Christian Gospel. The couple later traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18), where the two of them established a home that served as hospitality headquarters for new converts to Christianity. Apollos was one of their numerous Jewish pupils in the faith. An eloquent man, Apollos "spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus" (Acts 18:25). He later traveled from Corinth to the province of Achaia, where he "showed by the Scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus" (Acts 18:28). Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are all remembered and honored for their great missionary zeal."

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

- 1 Corinthians 3:6–7


Looking ahead to Sunday

The 6th Sunday after Epiphany
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Deuteronomy 30:15-20
    • Epistle lesson—1 Corinthians 3:1-9
    • Gospel—Matthew 5:21-48
  • Hymn of the Day—"The Law of God Is Good and Wise" (LSB 579)

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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