Okay so you thought today is the feast of St. Valentine – well yes it is, but today I want to remember two other saints whose feast day is also on the 14th February.
When I was training to be a priest, we had two Russian Orthodox monks come to stay at the college for a month. They were twin brothers and when they became monks they chose the names Cyril and Methodius. I have assumed they changed their names when they became monks because it would have been unusual for them to be named after Christian saints in a communist country that had strict controls about religion.
They were brought up not to believe in God, but it was through reading Russian novels and literature, including the Bible that they came to faith and then ended up joining a monastery. Although I did not know these two monks well, I have always remembered the story of how they became Christians, and that God calls people in the most unlikely places to follow him.
To be a Christian in Russia 20 years ago was a risky thing, I believe it is a little easier now, and so those two young men showed the difference that the Gospel can make to lives and that there are people who are still prepared to risk everything in order to follow Jesus.
The Cyril and Methodius who we are remembering today were born in Thessalonica in 9th century. They were responsible for translating the Slavonic spoken language into a written language and then translating the Bible and other Christian writings and worship into that language. It doesn’t sound like much now, but it was quite incredible for its time.