Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The beautiful song of redemption (Luke 1:67-68)

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:67-68 (NIV) (larger reading, Luke 1:57-80)
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.

A story told by Paul Lee Tan illustrates the meaning of redemption. He said that when A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to play with them, and then I guess I'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home." When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and can't sing very well." Gordon replied, "I'll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain." The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood. "That boy told me the birds were not songsters," said Gordon, "but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, 'Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!"

It was the 8th day. Zechariah could not speak. The people turned to Elizabeth to name her new son. She said, “John” but the people were not pleased since there was no one in their linage who carried that name. Once
Zechariah wrote the name John for all to see his mouth was mouthed and he prophesied openly about the redemption of the people.

It was a long time ago. I was young, too young to earn any money to purchase gifts to give at Christmas. I was old enough to know that you gave gifts to your family during this season. So my mother presented me with all of her S&H Green Stamp coupon books. Do you remember those marvelous little green stamps? Anyway, she had enough for me to “purchase” something small for everyone. It was the beginning of understanding redemption.

A price had been paid and I got something in return! I was one happy little dude. My soul sang. I could participate in the gift giving. I put my wrapped boxes under the tree. I was so proud of myself until a casual comment brought me back to earth. “You just used what Ma (oh, how my mother hated us calling her that) paid for earlier!” It hurt. It was the truth, but it hurt. A price was paid to get those stamps. All I was doing was exchanging the books for material things. The coupon books weren’t really mine. Ma had been saving them for years in order to get something she really wanted. She made a choice to give up her wishes for her youngest child. Such is the price of redemption.

It is also the cost of our freedom from sin. A price was paid so that our life could be redeemed. Just like the birds in the story above. Sin cages us in. Our voices become silenced by the confinement. In time we might become comfortable enough with our surroundings to sing, but the most beautiful song is one sung while being free. Sweet freedom.

Zechariah saw the future redemption and he began to sing the song of redemption. The birds could stretch their wings and soar to great heights and they sung the song of freedom. Ma paid the price, but I got to share the joy of giving – something she also experience as she handed me her books to use.

Love came down at Christmas and redemption became a reality. Now only to sing that beautiful song of redemption and help others realize their freedom to sing once again. Caged birds do sing, but it is a different song. Which song do we sing – one of freedom or one of being caged in?


Hear the song of our hearts dear Lord. We sing the song of redemption. Help us to sing out loud and long for such is the joy of a freed soul.

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