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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Colossians 1:11–15, 19

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (NRSV)

Several years ago my wife, Cris, and I were having dinner with a friend who was in the throes of writing a novel. Our dinner discussion revolved around her struggle to capture the idea of redemption for her main character, a deeply flawed person who was searching for peace within herself and reconciliation with her family. I recalled this conversation as I thought about this passage from Paul. Just as the flawed character was searching for peace and reconciliation so too should we.

Redeeming something means regaining possession of it, and in our flawed human case this something is regaining our inheritance as children of God, sharing in the “inheritance of the saints in the light.” The Redeemer was born to make the payment on our inheritance as children of God. God must think we’re really worth it too, because the payment is high, to be paid in full on the cross.

God knew we couldn’t do this redeeming thing by ourselves, so in Paul’s words, “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Redemption only comes by being reconciled to God, by giving ourselves over to him along with all of our imperfections. This is the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. He is the Redeemer, the debt payer. He is the perfection of mercy made human, and in him our reconciliation is made possible.

I don’t know how our friend ever resolved the fictional struggle with redemption since her novel wasn’t finished. Yet I’ve come to believe it was a more personal and autobiographical story, rather than fictional one, that motivated our discussion. It’s a universal story, because imperfection is part of being human and perfection isn’t.

Thanks be to God for the happy ending of our redemption from the darkness.

Lord, in this season of Christmas, we pray to our Redeemer in the hope of our reconciliation as children of God and inheritors of his kingdom. In his birth our hope is born. Alleluia. Amen.

Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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