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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XIX No. 1 Eastertide 2004

Inside Voices

Easter. Paschaltide. Springtime. A new flowering: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork". (Ps 19:1)

We deeply need this reassurance -- this annually renewed promise -- that God is truly with us, and that His gift of Redemption is offered freely to all.

Redemption is such a familiar term in Christianity that we may not always be fully aware of what the word means, and what it says about the human condition and the relationship of human beings to God our Creator and Redeemer. Why did Jesus "come to redeem the world"? Why do we need to be redeemed? From what?

The word "redeem" literally means "to take back" (re- + emere, to take). Thus it means to repurchase something that originally belonged to one; or to pay a ransom to free a captive, a person who has been enslaved or kidnapped or captured; or to remove an obligation to pay by making the payment (such as a bond); or to convert something of little actual worth into something of value (such as coupons or trading stamps).

The Christian meaning of redemption includes all of these meanings. We need a Redeemer because we, who belong to God from our conception, have been lost, through sin. We may be captivated by pleasure, or enslaved by selfishness, bad habits or addictions -- physical or psychological.

A slave is redeemed -- restored to freedom -- only when a redeemer pays the price. We are converted, made worthy, by our acceptance of this gift of redemption.

Every human institution is flawed because of man's sin. Entire nations, civilizations, as well as individuals, can be enslaved, lost, as we have seen over and over again in our time.

Recent events remind us why the world -- and every person on earth -- needs to be redeemed.

What we are now seeing -- in vivid and constantly shifting examples -- is a demonstration of the abiding truth that Jesus Christ Himself is a sign of contradiction to the world. This is hardly new. But Christ came to make all things new (Rev 21:5), and He reveals Himself to as many as receive Him.

"God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoptions as sons... So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir... For freedom, Christ has set us free" (Gal 4:4-5, 7; 5:1)

Christ "gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen". (Gal. 1:4,5)

May the Light of Christ, Lumen Christi, symbolized by the Easter Candle that burns in our churches throughout Paschaltide, burn brightly in our hearts and lives as we confront the darkness that surrounds us -- and await in hope the Dayspring from on High who will deliver us.

Sincerely in Our Lord,
Helen Hull Hitchcock

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