Church of England Diocese of Leicester Skeffington

St Valentines Day Sermon by Revd Canon Alison Booker

14 Feb 2021, 11 a.m.

Sunday 14<sup>th</sup> February holds together St Valentines Day, Racial Justice Sunday and the last Sunday before Lent when we traditionally hear the story of Jesus transfiguration.

What is it that connects these three things? I think for me it is about seeing through the eyes of Love.

On the mountain some of Jesus closest friends Peter, James and John see him in a new way. They see him ‘transfigured’ not changed into something else, that would be ‘transformed’ instead it is as though they are allowed to see what is really there, the true Jesus with Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) Jesus truly God in blinding pure light. We often talk of God as Love and here the friends of Jesus hear the voice from heaven that calls Jesus ‘Beloved’ here they see through the eyes of God’s Love what is to come. This happens before the events of Holy Week, before Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and they will only really understand it after Easter Sunday and the Resurrection.

Valentines day is of course associated with love – so often it’s romantic love – but that seems to me to be just one part of the story. I remember when my children were small we had a set of very popular ‘fairy’ books one of which was ‘Juliet the valentine fairy’ – I have to be honest my heart sank when it was bought, I was not a fan of such things (growing up as the girl with no cards on Valentines day!) yet this book surprised me, 21<sup>st</sup> Century children had Valentines day that included friendship not just romance, the love of family – these were all aspects of love that widen those who connect with the story of Love.

Diversity it seems to me is a vital part of Love, in the Church of England Marriage service we speak of Love between a couple that connects with the wider community, we pray their home will provide hospitality, widening the reach of Love is what Love is all about.

Racial Justice Sunday takes us there too. A shared place as God’s children regardless of any difference is at the core of what I believe about God. Justice is another aspect of Love, where there is injustice there is not love, Love has no place for injustice or prejudice.

We know that the world we inhabit struggles to show real love, sometimes we catch a glimpse, sometimes we hear something that ‘transfigures’ our view, shows us what is really there. In Martin Luther King Jr. last speech I am taken back to that story of Jesus on the Mountain, the story of Moses who led the people through the wilderness, Martin Luther King Jr says “I just want to do God’s will, and He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land” yet he spoke this in a world of injustice, lacking in love, rife with prejudice, a world we still see, he was not unaware and at the beginning of that speech he talks about if he could live in any time it would be the time he was born into, even though “the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century”.

Sadly that is a world I still recognise. Yet I trust in God who is capable of ‘transfiguring’ of breaking into our world with the light of Love, and not just showing us what God, who is Love, is like but showing us that the transformation of our broken world is possible.

In 1973 a Christian community in Cameroon Africa responded to New Testament readings. Each of the readings was selected and adapted to dramatic interpretation by the community members. Photographs of their interpretations were made, and these were then transcribed to paintings. The photograph used here is the Jesus Mafa (that community) picture of the Transfiguration. A glimpse of God’s Love created in community, together, may this be an inspiration for us.