Advent Week 4: On Redemption.


Redemption is tricky word. It’s one I probably throw around a lot, a part of meaningless Christianese. 

But I used this word this week in a different context. I said: “I don’t see how this situation is at all redeemable.” My husband and I were driving to a memorial service for a friend, someone who was like family to my in-laws, the childhood best friend of my sister-in-law. She was killed last Thursday in a car accident. Her 9 year old daughter was also in the accident. Jeff and I saw her on Sunday in the children’s ICU. She was slipping in and out of consciousness, and in a lot of pain. And it’s hard for me to find redemption in this situation.

I don’t see how this can be redeemed. I think a lot of us have thought this this past week. Horrible things happen, and it’s untrue that we can always find a silver lining. Sometimes there are no silver linings. Sometimes, it’s all dark. 

But the problem isn’t the word redemption. The problem is we think we can redeem. We think we’re capable of turning things around, we can make something good out of something awful, we think we can solve this problem called evil. We think we can overcome death. We think we can make our own peace amidst conflict. 

We can’t. I can’t. You can’t. No person can.

And while I can’t redeem these tragedies, and while other people can’t redeem them, we can find hope in the truth that God can. God has redeemed the entire world. 

At Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in the stuff that doesn’t really matter that much. And I don’t really want to rail against American consumerism or anything, but I don’t think some of the the ways we celebrate the holiday really helps us much. It’s very easy to cushion ourselves against the fact that every single one of us is in need of redemption with material items and comforts; but that is the reason why Jesus came. He came to redeem us all. 

And God can redeem anything. Even in the darkest of situations, even when things seem hopeless, even when the most horrible things happen, God is still there, and he can redeem. God can redeem anything, and he promises to redeem everything. 

We celebrate Christmas because without Christ’s redemption, this world is a sad pace. We celebrate Christmas because without Christ’s redemption, we are trapped by our own innate darkness. We need God to redeem us and make us new. 

I think the third verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing puts it best:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”



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