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Valentine's Day is the month of love

Built on a Rock
Pastor Mark Eliason, Palisade Lutheran Church, Garretson, South Dakota

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
February is considered by some to be the month of love. We celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th and billions, (that’s billions with a B) of dollars are spent on candy, flowers, jewelry, cards, fancy dinners, and other gifts so that we can profess how we feel about our true love, or prove our love to someone.
A number of years ago the Atlantic Magazine said this about Valentine’s Day: “Valentine's Day is a time to spoil our beloveds, woo our secret lovers, and remember to call our mothers. It is also, to put things slightly less tenderly, a $20 billion macroeconomic stimulus aimed straight at the heart of the American chocolate-floral-lingerie industrial hydra.”
So, to put it in terms I can understand, Americans spend over $20 billion, that’s 20 followed by nine zeros, dollars to tell each other how much we are loved. We even spend about $722 million on our pets on this “romantic” holiday.
I don’t know about you but that is a bit alarming to me. It costs me absolutely nothing to tell Sharon that I love her, but I, too, like many of you, will buy a gift for the one I love to reinforce just how much I love her.
We may not admit it, but we need to feel loved, and for many of us we yearn for someone to tell us they love us. Love is the one emotion that can have physical repercussions if it is not at least perceived. As the song says, “Love is a many splendored thing,” but for some, love is an elusive thing and they spend most of their energy trying to find it.
That’s why John 3:16 hits so close to home this time of the year. For many, love is a sacrifice. We often sacrifice our own desires or even our own wellbeing in favor of making sure the people we love have what they need. For those who have lost the ones they love recently, it feels like love is so distant that it is almost nonexistent and is a painful reminder of love lost.
But in God’s undying love for us, God made the ultimate sacrifice. God gave his Son, his very life, to prove to us that we are worthy of being loved. God loves us so much that God had to find a way to save us from ourselves and offers us abundant life now and eternal life in the future by giving up Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for sin and an end to the penalty of sin.
Jesus died to destroy the power death had over us, and he did it out of pure and holy love. That is the quintessential gift of love, and Jesus did it simply to prove God’s love for us.
So, this Valentine’s Day, when you are trying to come up with the perfect gift for the one you love, remember that Jesus gave the perfect gift to us on the cross and give thanks to God for that perfect gift.
God bless you, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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