By Rev. Roy M Terry IV
Pastor, Cornerstone United Methodist Church
First, read Psalm 130:7-8
"Do you have a coupon for that?" That's the phrase that comes to mind when I hear the word "redeem."
Now, you might think that is silly, but I'm serious. It's my mother’s fault. Going shopping with her as a child, she would always carry an abundance of coupons. When I would ask her what those were for, she would say, "We are going to redeem these to save us a little money."
“Redeem” equaled saving money and being a smart shopper, and it even carried over to my early understanding of the word as it was used in church. God was giving us a deal. If you have a coupon then you'd save. No coupon, well no good for you!
To this day, I can't stand it when I'm in line, patiently waiting my turn to check out, and the cashier turns with a snarky look and asks me if I have a coupon. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually had a coupon, but I never do. I'm just not that prepared, good or righteous of a shopper. It makes me feel a little dirty when that happens, for I have nothing to redeem.
I believe the penitential psalms (a section of which we read today) understand this tension well. It's a tension of image. If left to our own understanding of our greatest human need, we would punish ourselves with the severity of a proper wrathful deity. In this case, redemption would consist of providing us a way out of a well deserved punishment.
You either have a coupon or you miss out. You’re either a good shopper or you’re left feeling a little dirty. The good news is we are not left to our own understanding, although we always want to head back in that direction, God acts on our behalf and it is all mercy and grace. We are invited to participate in what God is doing and God redeems! There is no coupon needed.
1. What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "redeem"?
2. How does your image of God contribute to your understanding of God's redemption?
3. In what ways can we get in the way of what God is doing? How can we best partner with God's redemptive work?