“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Reference: Matthew 28:18-20 )
Have you ever wondered if the historic Anabaptists recognized and celebrated Valentine’s Day? Most probably they did not. First, it would have been a commemorative in the Catholic Church, and it was the Catholic church in Europe that they were rebelling against. Second, Valentine’s Day as it is celebrated now was not a romantic holiday in the 1400’s; that came in the 18th century. Third, historic Anabaptists cared for and had compassion for all people, not a select few. And lastly, they believed that God/Jesus had authority over all things and would not have held that a person in the past could/should dictate the actions of their present day.
Having dealt with the date/the day, let us consider the implications of the verse itself. Anabaptists/Mennonites, whether historic or contemporary, put great importance on these verses that they call “The Great Commission.” Anabaptists/Mennonites are not considered evangelical – we do not seek to “convert” people; we/they teach others what they feel Christ sought to teach his disciples. And upon confession of faith in the God that was taught, they baptize them; and very deliberately say, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit I baptize you . . . “ The action of baptizing is usually accompanied by membership in a Mennonite church. But that is only because the vast majority of those baptized wish to join in fellowship and worship with those who have walked with them to this point. It is not just a “here is your wet self, and your hat! Best of luck to you!” Belief in God may come to each individual, but carried in a group setting – church. Pilgram Marpeck wrote, “Here we have the clear command of Jesus Christ concerning baptism, and the
disciples are charged, not only to perform baptism, but also to teach and preach. Therefore, the apostles are to take preaching as seriously as baptizing, as indeed their writings abundantly testify.” The faith journey does not end at baptism; instead baptism marks an intensifying of the journey.
I am aware, beloved, as I speak of these things that I am using language and terms in my descriptions that might need defining and describing themselves. If I am using terms or phrases that are not familiar to you, please ask me about them.
Thinking more about Valentine’s day, St. Valentine, and the beginnings of St. Valentine’s Day it occurs to me that the historic Anabaptists would not give much thought to it all. The various “Valentines” (and my brief research tells me that there were several Valentines) who were martyred for their faith are not much different than the historic Anabaptists who were also martyred for their faith. Why set aside a special day to remember what was happening to them daily?
But if it is a day for remembering those who are dear to you, be assured beloved that I will be thinking of all of you on that day; and that I will lift you all up to God, hoping and praying that there are people around you who teach you and preach to you reminding you of your baptism in God. Selah!