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What did you give up for Lent?

Built on a Rock
Pastor Andrew Palmquist, Bethany Lutheran Church, Luverne

(The following column was submitted to appear in the Star-Herald on March 30 during the season of Lent. A different column was inadvertently used, and the Star-Herald staff apologizes for the error. We would like to share the intended column with you readers now.)
Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! Parties and parades! About a month ago these grand events were in the news. On February 22, the church season of Lent began. This is generally considered a time of repentance, of being sorry for sins. So for many people, they want to get all the celebrating out of their system before “Ash Wednesday” hits.
The beautiful, somber Lenten season lasts about six weeks. During this time many Christians choose to “give up” something that they enjoy, such as a favorite food or pastime, so that they can devote more time and thought to Jesus.
Whether or not you give anything up for Lent, consider what Jesus has given up for you. Even though he is true God, Christ Jesus also became a man. He did this so that he could live the life that God wants us to live: a perfect, holy life. He spent just over thirty years on this earth, teaching people about God’s love and his plan of salvation, healing those who were sick or demon-possessed and training his disciples for future Gospel ministry. During his earthly life, Jesus experienced many things just like we do — hunger, pain, afflictions, sadness — yet he never sinned once, and he did not fully use his divine power, not even when it would have made his life easier.
As we approach Palm Sunday and the events of Holy Week, ponder all that our Savior went through. Jesus was welcomed as a King on that festive day, with children and adults waving palm branches and shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Yet just a few days later many in the crowds would turn on Jesus and cry out for his death by crucifixion. Even though he was totally innocent, our Savior allowed himself to be arrested, tried, and convicted for crimes he did not commit. He was severely beaten, mocked, and whipped/flogged. Then he gave up his very life when he was nailed to a Roman cross.
Jesus endured all this out of pure, selfless love — in your place. He lived a righteous life and died a humiliating death so that God would forgive all people — including you and me — all of our sins. He willingly gave up his life so that you and I could have life forever with him in heaven.
What’s more, Christ gave up his life for you but he didn’t stay dead. Throughout the Lenten season we look forward to Easter, when we celebrate Jesus’ awesome victory of rising bodily from the dead. That’s what makes all the sacrifices of Lent — including what Jesus gave up — so worth it. “Because I live, you also will live,” our resurrected Lord promised (John 14:19). Repent in Lent, for Easter is coming!
Yes, what an honor for us to watch and pray with our Savior during Lent and Holy Week. How much richer and joyous our celebration of Easter will be when we take time to see the depth of his sorrow and suffering for us and how it resolves itself in his triumph over sin and death.
May the Lord bless your Lenten journey as we focus on his cross, his sacrifice, his forgiveness, and his peace. Praise God that Jesus went through all of this for you!

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