By Rev. Rose M. Blank St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
Give thanks to the LORD because he is good. God’s faithful love lasts forever! Give thanks to the God of all gods. God’s faithful love lasts forever. Give thanks to the Lord of all lords. God’s faithful love lasts forever. Give thanks to the only one who makes great wonders. God’s faithful love lasts forever.”
~ (Psalm 136: 1-4 Common English Bible)
As we get close to celebrating Valentine’s Day, the day when we profess our love for one another, these words remind us of a love that far exceeds our human ability to love. This divine love is one that lasts forever – or in another translation it says God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” (NRSV) While this kind of love is almost beyond our comprehension, the psalmist recounts through all 26 verses of this psalm this faithful, steadfast love of God that lasts forever. The psalmist remembers the faithful love of God that was present during creation, throughout the time of the Israelites slavery in Egypt and their release from bondage in the Exodus. This amazing love was there to sustain the people during the years of wandering in the wilderness as they made their way to the Promised Land. It is this same amazing love that has sustained the saints down through the ages.
According to Robert Ellsberg’s book, All Saints, St. Valentine “was apparently a Christian priest in Rome who assisted martyrs during the persecution under Emperor Claudius II.” Following his arrest, he refused to renounce his faith, was beaten and killed. “Thus by offering his heart, he proved himself a true devotee of the God of Love.” (p. 77)
Perhaps this Valentine’s Day can be a time to reflect on the God of Love, the One whose “steadfast love endures forever.” Take some time to read the entire Psalm 136. Then write your own psalm of how God’s love has been present throughout your own life, through the ups and downs, through the joys and sorrows, embracing you with love that is beyond comprehension. Between each of the lines of remembrance, recall with the psalmist once again how “God’s faithful love lasts forever.” As we remember this kind of love, it gives us courage and strength as we encounter the events in our lives. And as we dwell in this steadfast divine love, it shapes who we are in the world and impacts how we live in relationship with others.
May we always remember God’s love and give thanks.