Much of what we know about Saint Valentine has been lost to story and legend. We know he was a priest who went about Rome marrying Christian couples when that sort of thing was frowned upon by the leadership at the time.

He was jailed and often let out of his cell to come debate religion with Emperor Claudius at parties. He made the mistake of trying to convert the emperor, who then ordered Valentine beaten to death. When he refused to die, Claudius ordered Valentine to be beheaded.

Legend says there was a guard who asked Valentine to pray for his daughter’s blindness. Valentine did, and the girl’s sight was restored. Valentine wrote a note to the girl and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

(Read the stuff above to teens, then ask these questions)

  • What is the most romantic song you’ve heard?
  • The most romantic movie?
  • The most romantic date?
  • Is Valentine’s Day (for the most part) a holiday for women? Should it be? Why does it seem as if there are lines of men at the florist on Valentine’s Day? What is the guy equivalent of flowers for girls?
  • How did your parents get together? What is the story of their proposal/engagement?
  • What does it mean to have a heart for Jesus? Can you give your heart to someone else and still have a heart for Jesus? What would you do if your boyfriend/girlfriend gave you a Christian Valentine card?
  • Did you give out the small Valentine cards in your class at school? Is there one year in particular you remember?
  • What is love?

Ideas for making Valentines Day great:

  • Is there a couple in your church who has been married for a long time…a really, really long time…50 years or more? Invite one of these couples to your meeting and have the students ask them questions.
  • Purchase a few boxes of candy hearts. (The colored ones with two-word phrases.) Ask your group to create the top 10 best heart messages, then ask students to create the Top 10 Breakup Heart messages or Top 10 funniest messages.
  • See if you can get your hands a few boxes of Do-it-Yourself kid Valentines before the meeting. If that isn’t possible, cut paper hearts. You should have enough so each student has four.
  • A quick Google search will give you the top 100 songs of previous decades. How many of the songs from the past decade are about love? How does this compare with the songs from the 60s and 70s? How many of those old songs are still around?

Teaching Ideas:

There are four different words in Scripture that mean love: Eros, Philleo, Storge and Agape. Eros is passionate love; Philleo is brotherly love; Storge is compassion; Agape is the unconditional love Jesus spoke about.

Write each of these on one of the Valentines (or paper hearts), then write the name or initials of someone you know who embodies this kind of love. (Skip Eros if it’s embarrassing.)

Read the story of Peter and Jesus in John 21.

In the Greek translation, Jesus essentially asked Peter “Do you agape me?” Peter answered with Philla. Jesus again asked if Peter Agaped Him , and Peter answered a second time with Philla. The third time, Jesus said Philla and Peter answered the same.

How does this new understanding of the word love change when we read it in the Greek? What does it say about Peter? Why did Jesus switch to “brotherly love” instead of the “unconditional love?”

Read 1 John 4:7-8.

Does everyone really mean every one? If God is love and love is God and everyone who loves knows God, does this mean an atheist who loves his/her spouse knows God?  If everyone who loves is a child of God, does this include people in other religions? Prisoners on death row?

Send students on a hunt for sounds. Make sure they take along a cell phone with voice recorder and speaker. Have them find the most annoying sounds they can record along with a sound for love. Read the verses from 1 John aloud. Insert the noises for clanging cymbal anytime you say the word love.

Read Song of Solomon 1:12-14.

There are those who say the Song of Songs is merely a metaphorical writing about God’s love for the church. Give it a read and see what you think.

Is there anything wrong with saying the Bible contains a dialogue between two people who can’t keep their hands off each other? Why would someone have a problem with the Bible being…uh…hot?

Read Romans 13.

This is commonly known as “the love chapter.” Make a list of what this chapter tells us love is. Write this list in order of what is easiest for you, ending with which is most difficult. What are some things you can do to improve on the more difficult choices?

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About The Author

Steve Case has been active in youth ministry for 18 years, currently at Windermere Union United Church of Christ near Orlando, Fla. He’s also a popular speaker and the author of several books, including Everything Counts, The Book of Uncommon Prayer, and The Big Book of Case Studies. (YS)

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