“1Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21: 1 – 4 )
Sure was a snowstorm up here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Strange as it seems, our home is in Hopkinton, but our post office address is Contoocook, New Hampshire. That’s kind of a different name, but either Hopkinton or Contoocook is our mailing address.
We are going to have to walk right along today for my Valentine will be coming home from school very soon. No, we are not going out to dinner this Valentine’s Day; we decided that we would have dinner here at home. That pleases me for our home is very cozy and warm. I’ll light a fire in the woodstove so that our living room and dining room will be comfortable. It is unusual for us to have Valentine’s dinner at home together for we have had dinner with Dale’s sisters and our brother-in-laws for many years. Times change, and we will miss them tonight.
My brother Milt called me this morning just before I was going to telephone him. Before his call, I was thinking about what we might talk about this day or whom we would wish to remember on our walk. I remembered how in elementary school we brought a valentine for everyone in our class. We cut them or punched them out of a little booklet, and we were told we were not to leave anyone out. That was difficult for me to do for there was one girl in my class that used to chase after me as I walked home. I might have appreciated that in junior or senior high school but certainly not in the second grade. So you remember anyone chasing you home, or someone you wanted to chase home yourself. Do you remember any special valentines?
Snow banks are really high, aren’t they? We have to watch out as we walk along this country road for some automobiles have drivers who drive too fast no matter the road conditions.
My brother’s call changed my mind about what we might share this morning for he began his conversation with me telling me that Valentine’s Day was a very happy yet a very sad day for him. He rekindled his affection for a girl he had dated once, but then they had separated. It seems Juel’s brother Jere had invited Milton to come and be a fourth at a game of bridge. When he went to Jere’s house, Juel his sister came downstairs and sat on the couch watching the game, and certainly that boy she had liked named Milton.
Valentine’s Day was not far off and so on that day Milt sent Juel a valentine. She called him not long after and invited him to her sorority dance. Soon after that dance, the two of them fell in love and eventually married.
Juel was a very attractive girl and that is an understatement. I was around fourteen when they were married, and to me, she was beautiful and wonderful. As the years passed, she became ever more dear. Now I know that this is about Milt and Juel but she typed my papers that I wrote in seminary on a moment’s notice; well truthfully she would type them when I called her the night they were due. Not only was my penmanship poor but my spelling was also atrocious. She took care of that as she typed.
When Milt was writing his Doctoral Thesis, she found it to be the most difficult document she had ever typed. It was about the Hebrew language, and to her it was rather boring. She seldom complained but she did about this. Why I mention it is that she said to me one day not long after she finished typing Milton’s that if ever I wrote a doctoral thesis she would type it for me. I never did so I think she must have been relieved.
Two children were born to Milton and Juel, Diana Jane and Milton II. Juel was everything a mother should be, sometimes strict but ever so loving. My brother was really spoiled by Juel because she loved him to the depths of her heart. Even when he went off to Israel to work at an archeological site, she continued to love him. Sometimes Milt tells me he feels guilty about the things he did or did not do for Juel, but that is the way all of us feel when we really love someone. We stop thinking about ourselves, and we think of the one we love. Milt was so loving and attentive to his wife Juel for the several years when she was so terribly ill. And he misses her.
When we were about to end our conversation, he began to play their song “Forever and Ever”. I know that song brought sadness to him, yet the joy of a love for over sixty years that never grew less but always deeper was a part of that song.
I know that song by heart – for when Milt was dating Juel and very lovesick, he put my brother Bill’s supper in the ice box instead of in the oven; that heartsick young man played “Forever and Ever” on our record player over and over and over.
Yet, as a Christian, that song is appropriate – for we believe we meet again in a world where those we love who have gone before us wait for us.
“Forever and ever my heart will be true – sweethearts forever I’ll wait for you. We both made a promise that we’ll never part – we’ll seal it with a kiss forever my sweetheart.”
Oh, my sweetheart has just driven up our driveway – time for me to go home. Love when it is blessed by God never ends. I know my brother is lonely, that he misses Juel, but how wonderful he had such a love and a faith that promises they will meet again. That is my faith and your faith – valentines truly in love – love forever in eternity.
Our Prayer Together
O God, on this Valentine’s Day, may we remember how blessed we are when we have found a faithful love. May each one of us pray this day for the ones we love, and may Your blessing be upon us. And this day too, be with those who feel they are not loved; disclose to them Your love that embraces them each and every day. How grateful we are, dear God, for human love and for the love of Jesus Christ who brings to us life eternal where our love for one another never ends – through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“And now, may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”