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Bishop: Give your loved one a cup of tea on Valentine’s Day

Writing for the Essex Chronicle, Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, has said that the reality of love is worked out in daily acts of loving kindness:

"Valentine's Day is upon us, with its insistence that only red roses, champagne and large gaudy cards with throbbing red hearts will do. Astonishingly most of us conform: many cards will be bought, many red roses picked, and many gallons of bubbly drunk. On the one hand, it is all good fun, but on the other, it perpetuates a certain notion of romantic love that is not necessarily helpful for promoting the real thing.

"So what should I give my loved one on Valentine's Day? Well, if you are still wooing your beloved, something slightly more original may go down well. But for those of us in committed relationships, then the greatest gift we can give our loved one is commitment. The romantic love industry isn't so keen on this. It likes to perpetuate the myth that love comes at first sight, that relationships are made in the stars, and that it is somehow our destiny to be with this person (that is, until the whole thing crashes and love picks out someone else for us). This version of love only needs fuelling with gifts. Real love needs something else.

"Like everything else that is truly worthwhile in life, relationships need to be worked at. It is not just about making a once in a lifetime commitment to another person, but a daily commitment: a daily commitment to have and to hold, to love and to cherish. And the reality of this is worked out in daily acts of loving kindness. So give your loved one a cup of tea; or an emptying of the dishwasher; or a tidying up of your side of the bed. Give something that expresses the desire of a life time to live your life with this person and not another, and show it in the little commitments that make up a lifetime shared. Then love grows and deepens, and two lives become one life shared. This is real love after the falling in love has fallen away. And I suppose if you commit yourself to this, it is really worth celebrating. So you can crack open the champagne as well."