Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Redeem : Repair : Restore : Renew

verb \ri-‘dēm\
1    a : to buy back
      b : to get or win back
2: to free from what distresses or harms: as
a : to free from captivity by payment of ransom
b : to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental
c : to release from blame or debt : clear
d : to free from the consequences of sin
3: to change for the better: reform
4: repair, restore
5    a : to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
 b (1) : to remove the obligation of by payment  (2) : to exchange for something of value
 c : to make good : fulfill
6    a : to atone for : expiate
       b (1) : to offset the bad effect of (2) : to make worthwhile : retrieve

What comes to mind when you hear the word, redeem?

One childhood memory immediately comes to my mind. Back in the day, I would redeem my soda bottle for a nickel at the store. I returned the bottle to be reused, recycled, and refilled again.

Another image is my mother used to redeem S and H Green Stamps. She redeemed her booklets filled with stamps for free merchandise from their catalog.

Many thoughts come to mind from my faith tradition ~ from the verses in scripture and words of hymns that tell of being redeemed ~ a price paid to free me from the wages of sin and death.

When I started this blog almost three years ago, I knew I would call it, Redeeming the Future. As I looked at the events of my life, I did not want the lean years to devour the rich years. I realized that, like me, there were others who may one day find themselves on a similar journey ~ on a difficult path filled with obstacles that obscured their hope of ever experiencing peace.

What truly comes to mind when I hear the word redeem are two powerful words that are signposts along my journey ~
HOPE ~ a strong belief that there is a pathway through difficult times that can bring us to a healing place; a place where we can once again know the joy of experiencing peace

TRANSFORMATION ~ the decision to not be destroyed, but to be transformed by those things that seem to be quite literally more than I can bear
I am not just another Pollyanna ~ an excessively or blindly optimistic person. The message of Redeeming the Future is not a pie-in-the-sky kind of gospel. Redeeming the future does not take away the reality of the pain, loss, and disappointments of the past or the present. But that simple six-letter word ~ redeem ~ provides a new lens through which I can look back at the difficult times with hope, knowing that I can be transformed; I can become stronger in the broken places.

I love the following quote by author Maria Robinson ~

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

And that, my friend, is all about Redeeming the Future.

So, what comes to mind when YOU hear the word, redeem?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Reversal of Values

Mardi Gras ~ Fat Tuesday ~ a day characterized by excessive eating and drinking, and lewd behavior before the sacrificial season of Lent. What a stark contrast this day is to Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps it is only coincidental that today ~ Fat Tuesday ~ I have been reminded of another contrast. One of my FB friends posted a link this morning to a podcast where Tim Keller shares some reflections of living in God's Kingdom.

In the podcast, Keller takes us to the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke.  It is there that Jesus holds up the values of the world in contrast to those embraced by those who choose to live in His Kingdom. The essence of Keller's thoughts are summed up by this quote from author Michael Wilcock.

In the life of God’s people will be seen first of all a remarkable reversal of values (6:20-26). They will prize what the world calls pitiable, and suspect what the world thinks is desirable. Values which are taken for granted by other men are questioned by them, and are considered in the searching light of spiritual truth, hidden reality, and a future life.

It is this very reversal of values that brings to light the blessedness Jesus speaks of in this passage. As Keller says, a blessedness that is impervious to weeping; that is increased in times of weakness. It is a spiritual truth that remains in stark contrast to what the world holds as truth. A hidden reality that allows those in His Kingdom to feel His blessing in the midst of weakness and sacrifice, grief and exclusion; without which, the future would have little hope of being redeemed.

I highly recommend that you brew a cup of tea or pour another cup of coffee and settle in to listen to Keller's words on The Community of Jesus.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Lens of Lent

I was raised in a faith tradition which did not observe the season of Lent, a Christian tradition celebrated in the forty days leading up to Easter.

I find myself lamenting that many aspects of this tradition had been part of my upbringing ~ to make time in life's hectic pace to dwell on the passion of Christ and all that He established; to rejoice in the blessed hope of His resurrection.

To be honest, I often allow the circumstances of life to rob me of the peace and joy that was established through the death and resurrection of Christ. These temporary struggles seem to lay claim to much of my concentration. With the Lenten season beginning on Ash Wednesday this week, I savor this place of mindfulness. I look forward to entering this season; to rest in the reality that the redemption so freely given on the cross, continues to redeem the future.

I want to focus my thoughts, my desires, and even the events of each day upon the promise of Colossians 1:20, 21 ~
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  
and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven, 
making peace by the blood of his cross.

I find that a verse in The Lorica of Saint Patrick truly expresses this place of rest for me during this season as I recognize the fullness of His being, the depth of His love, and the truth of His promise to redeem all things to Himself. 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of every one who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
May the passion of Christ and the reality of the resurrection illuminate for each of us the hope of redeeming the future.

Art work entitled, Toward Calvary by Michael O'Brien