This past Friday many nations around the world celebrated Valentine's Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine. This special day is said to have begun as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular story associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. The special day has evolved into an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, buying candy, and sending greeting cards, called valentines. But the love that is celebrated on this day falls far short of the agape love which Christ showed for each of us when He willingly gave His life for those of us who are so undeserving of this love. Romans 5:8 reminds us "that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And that love is the theme behind this week's hymn choice which was written by the London merchant Samuel Trevor Francis (1834–1925). Francis had a major spiritual turning point in his late teens while contemplating suicide one night on a bridge over the River Thames. The love of God overwhelmed his soul at that critical point in his life. Experiencing a renewal of faith, he went on to author many poems and hymns in the next 72 years. He was also a preacher in addition to his merchant career. The song compares Jesus' love to the ocean in scope, emphasizing the limitless, unchanging, and sacrificial nature of God's affections for each of us. Look at some of the words and expressions he used - rolling as a mighty ocean, underneath me, the current of Thy Love, from shore to shore, an ocean full of blessing, a haven giving rest. Possibly these word pictures were inspired by his experience that night on the bridge. May we marvel this week at the deep, deep love of Jesus, unmeasured, boundless, free! May this reflection lift us up to glory and up to the One who showed that love for each of us.
(1) O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
to Thy glorious rest above!
(2) O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
watcheth o'er them from the throne!
(3) O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean full of blessing,
'tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
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