February 2019

'View from the Rectory' is the monthly column from our Rector, published in our Parish magazine.


What’s Love got to do with it?

Valentine’s Day- love it or loathe it? Romantic or over-commercialised?

An opportunity for that grand romantic gesture or maybe just a superficial gift of cards and flowers and nothing for the other 364 days.

Maybe not a great day for those who are single or are living in a relationship devoid of love. But does this day have any significance in the life of the church?

According to the book Exciting Holiness, Valentine was a priest or a bishop of Terni in Italy who was martyred at Rome under Emperor Claudius in about 269 AD. The connection of this celebration with lovers seems to be either as the traditional day in mediaeval belief when birds mated, or more likely as being linked with the pagan Lupercalia festival in Rome, which occurred on the Ides of February. For Christians, this day is meant to mark an acknowledgement of an all-loving God who blesses those who love one another, as Jesus implored his own disciples to do. Love is one of God’s BIG words of depth and meaning and a golden thread through our Bible, Christian worship and liturgy - rightly so.

This year I am preparing four couples for marriage at St Mary’s and one of the delights for me is getting to know their story. How and where they met, what they understand love to be and, very importantly, why it is important to express their love through marriage in the village church. On 11th February I invite the couples to meet each other over a meal and explore with me any questions and issues they have. Each couple gets a small gift of Richard Daly’s God’s Little Book of Love. In the book’s introduction the author carries a stark warning as he writes; ‘What happens when love for one another is withdrawn, and the power of its effect reduced? It is disastrous, for we cannot survive without love.’

Over the past weeks I have been gripped by the ambitious six part BBC drama 'Les Miserables' that draws heavily on Victor Hugo’s 1862 tale of love, redemption and revolution. A superb epic six hour adaption from Andrew Davies of 'Vanity Fair', 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'War and Peace' fame.  Dominic West, who plays the central character Valjean, describes the drama as ‘a beautiful, hopeful story about people who are trying to find their way to be good, to find out what it takes to love.’

Let’s hope that as Jean Valjean sings so movingly in the musical version of Hugo’s novel, we will all come to understand, in every aspect of  its depth and mystery, that ‘To love another person is to see the face of God.’

Every prayer and blessing

Rev’d David Coleman


St Mary’s Church West Chiltington

Office- The Rectory, East St, West Chiltington, West Sussex RH20 2JY

Office phone-  01798 813117

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