Tuesday, February 09, 2010

St. Valentines Day Mass Exit

There are some special CofE resources for Valentines Day, which happens to fall on a Sunday this year (that was careless, I hope Sunday is ok*). Some of the ideas for marking this sound quite fun, but something is niggling me. Looking around the families at our church, there's probably a minority headed up by married couples who are both church members. Some are families where only one parent is a Christian, other are single parent families, some are couples with children who aren't married. So if we did anything Valentiney in a main service, it would be deeply uncomfortable for a large section of the church, so much so that they might even stay away.

We'll be picking up on a theme of love and relationships in our cafe service this Sunday, but trying to approach it from an angle that everyone can engage* with. Can a church (or any community) with a mixed economy of family structure celebrate marriage without that being uncomfortable for some? We provide overt support for marriage through things like our marriage preparation course (which seems to be accumulating 2 new couples a week at the moment), does overt support for single parents just come across as patronising, or are their places where this works well?

Of course we could make it really uncomfortable, and re-enact the life of St. Valentine himself. The legend has it that he was a priest imprisoned under Roman emperor Claudius for secretly marrying Christian couples. According to Wikipedia "this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate." That could make for an interesting act of worship....



  1. I know what you mean. This won't be a problem for me this year, now that I am married. But it has been in past years, when I have been single and (most years) not in a relationship. So you really should include single, and divorced, people in your list of those likely to be uncomfortable on Valentine's Day.

    But even more of a problem for some, and one which comes on a Sunday every year, is Mothering Sunday. This can be a deeply painful Sunday service for those of us who have lost our mothers, and are not part of a family with mother and children. I have never actually stayed away on this day, but there are times I wished I had. So please bear this in mind as well over the next few weeks.

  2. Three cheers for you, David - having a whole sunday devoted to other people's romance is even more icky than the sentimentality that Mothering SUnday has descended into. Another alternative - you could ditch Valentine and embrace the fact that next sunday is also Autism Sunday. (google it - your comments don't seem to accept a URL)

  3. The Vicar is preaching on 'What is Love?' this Sunday and we've encouraged people to invite their friends to church this week. That's a theme That everyone can relate to. 'This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us' 1 John 3:16
    We're thinking about getting some cheesy 80s YouTube clips up as illustrations - Haddaway or Howard Jones anyone?

  4. Valentine's isn't important enough to displace Sunday. Perhaps you should mark Sunday as "St Charlie Brown's Day", as the good Chuck B always suffered on that day of the year.