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Love Them to Jesus!

The joyous celebration of Christmas is in our back window and the winter “blahs” have most likely set in. The days can be a little colder and drearier. The evenings are long and dark. It is easier to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix rather than get fresh air and exercise.

Into this long gray season comes a reminder of love. Red, pink and white are the colors we begin to see everywhere we look. Hearts appear in stores, coffee shops and schools. Valentine’s Day is a welcome respite in the middle of the lengthy winter months.

The origins of this holiday begin with Valentine, a Roman priest arrested for aiding persecuted Christians in the third century. Roman Emperor Claudius II decreed all soldiers should not be married or have families. Valentine recognized the unfairness of the rule and helped marry couples in secret. Because of this, Claudius interrogated and persecuted him. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and tried to convert him to paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity for which he was then executed on February 14. Prior to his execution, Valentine performed a miracle, restoring sight to his jailer’s blind daughter, Julia. The jailer and his whole family (46 in total!) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized. Legend states the night before his execution Valentine wrote a letter to the now healed Julia and signed it “Your Valentine”, thus beginning a tradition of sending valentine cards which continues to this day. Further legend states Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near the grave of Valentine. Today, the almond tree continues to be a reminder of friendship and long-lasting love.

This story is a wonderful reminder of God’s love in the midst of chaos and darkness. His love is endless and healing. Our sins are washed clean, and we have the assurance of eternal life with him. Valentine’s Day has become a national holiday focusing on human love and friendship, but it really had its origins with a man sharing God’s love with others.

Right about now, the school year can seem to drag. Christmas break is long gone, and Spring break is nowhere in sight. The newness of school has worn off, and yet our educational year has a long way to go. We’re in a fervent rush to cover academic material before our students catch spring fever. We’re addressing parent concerns and solving friendship issues which often arise from so much togetherness. The rainy days and inside recesses can zap all our energy and patience.

Into this season of education “blahs” steps Christ’s love for us and his constant care. Scripture is full of reminders of God’s presence. He knows every frustration we are in the middle of, and He can handle it all. Psalm 55:22 states, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.” Joshua 1:9 says, “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And finally, Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, “He will quiet you with His love.”

When we are filled with the assurances of God’s love and peace, we can share these with our students. When we become overwhelmed with our to-do lists of educational tasks, we need to focus back to our main mission as Lutheran educators - sharing Christ with our students. St. Valentine was one who kept this as his main objective, even as he was facing certain execution.

When beloved Lutheran educator, Kathie Perkins, was approached by a very stressed first year teacher concerned about educating her flock of students, Kathie’s response was one we can all use as a daily reminder. She didn’t tell her to read the latest educational blog or give a lecture filled with seasoned educational wisdom, she simply stated, “Love them to Jesus”. What a great reminder to us during this month celebrating love. When we are stressed about all the things we feel need to be accomplished this school year, let’s take a deep breath and relax. Just remember, our job is simple yet life-changing - LOVE THEM TO JESUS!

Lisa Ellwein, Salem Lutheran School, Orange, CA


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