NOTE: Roy wrote this blog prior to the decision to postpone student-led conferences.

“Student-led Conferences are on Valentine’s Day!”

I knew the objections would come.

I hoped with enough notice, people would adjust and accept it. It’s just that it really is the best timing. I actually didn’t see it as such a big deal but I checked with a few people. It’s not just my decision after all.

Just Not My Thing

To be honest, I generally don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day.

I love my wife (more all the time) and I try to show her that in other ways, though likely not enough. I just haven’t seen the need to bow to the societal pressure to buy over-priced flowers and chocolates to show her my love. Yes, some of you are thinking, “poor Jane.” She’ll probably get some messages of sympathy on Facebook. To top it off, I am deserting her on Valentine’s Day to visit my first love (my Mom).

I will admit that I do have a relatively low RQ (Romantic Quotient—I don’t know if that is really a thing; I just made it up). And I have tried not to let my opinion interfere with how excited the students get about this day—after all, it’s another chance to consume excess amounts of sugar.

This may be a long shot, but I also thought what better way to show love in a family than by getting together and celebrating all the learning that is happening in these children’s lives with student-led conferences.

Saint Who?

All of this was mulling around in my head as the day approaches and then I spent the last weekend in January at a Steve Bell conference. Many people know my deep admiration for Steve Bell so the opportunity to spend an evening and day with him was too good to pass up.

In the midst of everything I enjoyed that weekend, he caused me to reconsider how important Valentine’s Day is. I honestly don’t know if I ever looked up or heard about who St. Valentine was before.

St. Valentine was a priest in the Roman Empire in the third century. Roman law said that anyone newly married was free from military service for one year. At the time, however, Rome was having some difficulty on its borders and the Emperor banned marriages until these conflicts could be dealt with. Valentine, feeling a higher calling, continued to perform marriages. The Emperor called him in and reminded him of the edict and told him to stop. Valentine continued to perform marriages. He was a priest after all; performing marriages was one of his duties. The Emperor called him back and told him that he really did need to obey.

Valentine refused and, ultimately, died for his conviction, on February 14, 269 AD.

Heart of the Matter

What is interesting is where this date falls in the Church calendar.

We are currently in the season of Epiphany, the time when the Church focuses on the life and ministry of Christ. February 14 is approximately when that season ends and we begin the Season of Lent (in 2018, it happened to be exactly on Ash Wednesday).

Coincidence? Perhaps.

But consider this: the day on which we celebrate a life sacrificed for the sake of covenantal love comes at the same time as we begin the season that leads up to remembering the ultimate sacrifice for covenantal love.

I am not sure that this will improve my RQ, but it may be worth putting a proper emphasis on the day.