“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
I cannot see the word “ransom” without thinking of the O. Henry short story: Ransom of Red Chief. The child is so mischievous that the kidnappers eventually pay the parents to take him back. Without getting too all-fired theologically twisted over it, the idea of God paying God a Ransom for our salvation, and ultimately being the ransom for us (Jesus, God’s Son) almost seems the original version of the O. Henry story. Just what sort of rascals are we that God would pay to get us back safe and sound? God loves turning the tables on God’s enemies!
I receive a perverse sort of pleasure thinking of the devil standing before God, pleading the devil’s case: “Take them back. All of them! I don’t want them. They’re too much trouble. They’re yours. And while you’re at it, take everything else I’ve got, too. I’m glad to be rid of the lot of them!!!”
Like Red Chief, we are oblivious to the drama that unfolds, and yet the time comes we return home, singing our songs while the sorrow and sighs flee away into the night – along with the devil. Praise God!
O Lord, you want us back, we know not why / But that you do, we can’t but cry / For you delight to hold us tight / you, our Lord, our
Advent light! Amen.
-The Rev. Keith Axberg