Feb 14, 2012

True Love

The Courting Dulcimer is an odd instrument from the Victorian age. Actually, it is two dulcimers combined into one instrument. To play it, a couple has to face each other with their knees touching. They place the instrument on their combined laps. Since it takes two hands to play a dulcimer, young couples could be allowed to be in a room alone together as long as music could be heard through the door. When the music stopped, the door opened.

As a music teacher, Jennifer's father had a whole collection of odd instruments hanging on the living room wall. One of these instruments was a courting dulcimer. Whenever I was waiting in the living room for Jennifer to get ready for a date, her father was always keen to tell me the story behind this instrument. I guess it was better than cleaning a shotgun. The message was clear enough.

I wonder what Hollywood would say about a courting dulcimer. I am sure they would place it in the archive of old-fashioned relics that signified old-fashioned values. I mean, really, courting? You've got to be kidding!

Tuesday is Valentine's Day. The whole day is based on the somewhat embellished story of Saint Valentine. He was a Saint who lived during the reign of Claudius II. Apparently the Roman Emperor denied marriage to his young men to make them more fierce for battle. Valentine secretly married these young men so the Emperor threw the Saint in Jail. While there he healed the jailer's daughter and they fell in love.

When Valentine stood before Claudius II, the Emperor demanded that he recant Christianity. Instead, Valentine tried unsuccessfully to convert the Emperor. In the end, Valentine was willing to give up his life than betray the God he loved. Imagine the heartbreak felt by the Jailer's daughter to watch the man she loved die because he believed in something bigger than himself. It probably made her love him more.

When I think of Valentine, I am reminded of that courting dulcimer. It reminds me of a time when men would rather die than dishonor his beloved or her family. It reminds me of a time when a man wouldn't even think of being alone in a room with his beloved – not because of what would happen – but because of something bigger ...her honor. That's courting.

It's interesting that in Latin, Valentine means "Valor". That's what we long for: A man willing to sacrifice himself for His bride. Our Beloved was that man. He loved His bride, the church, so much that He was willing to die for her. To do otherwise was unthinkable. That's true love.

Blessings,

Pastor David Hook