Let your heart be all-inclusive

I learned a significant lesson one Valentine's Day.

A small church had invited me to be the speaker for their annual Sweetheart Banquet. I was given the topic of love. I prepared my remarks using the familiar passage from 1 Corinthians 13.

When I arrived that evening, I was ushered to a table where lots of women were seated. They were all ages and as conversation progressed I learned that they were married, single, divorced, and widowed.

As dinner was served, I noticed that only men were coming from the kitchen. I commented on that when I received my plate and the gentleman told me "We do this every year. We want all of the women in our church to know that they are loved!"

The meal was delicious (barbecue turkey, which I'd never had before). I gave my program and then an older gentleman walked to the microphone.

He stumbled over his words at first but then his voice rang true and clear.

"This last year," he said, "I've been making baskets. Tonight, I'd like to give one to each lady present. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you as I performed this labor of love."

With that, the other men began to pass out the baskets. Each woman accepted the gift and admired it. One woman at the end of the table remarked that this was the first "Valentine's" gift she had ever received.

In as society where romantic love was the theme for Valentine's Day, the men of that church had shown their community that it was about a love that included all. It was a love that treated each one respectfully and in a caring manner. It was a love that recognized each one as equal and valuable. It was a true gift.

They did not need me there as a keynoter. Their actions spoke louder than any words ever could. I think it would honor them and the Lord that they serve if we all remember to be inclusive in whatever way we celebrate the day named Valentine's Day.