Bought with a Price


In the sacristy[1] of my former parish, I had a prayer mounted on the vestment closet door. I recited that prayer before beginning every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Often I asked those assisting me to join me as I offered the prayer. In that prayer we acknowledged that we are in God’s presence and that we are no longer our own.[2] By those words, no longer our own, we meant that we had been purchased (redeemed is another good term to use here) by God through the cost of his Son on the cross. In the deepest spiritual sense we are (as the prayer states) no longer our own persons.

Not being our own is foreign to Americans, who believe fervently in the principle of rugged individualism. We have a difficult time turning our lives over to something as nebulous as God. What I mean by nebulous is that we can not see or touch God—there is no physical substance to God who is spirit and is worshiped in spirit.

Through our rugged individualism we call the shots, write the programs, and manipulate the data. It is our lives that matter and, furthermore, we own our selves. How can God make a claim that we are bought with a price?

However, rugged individualism too often fails us. We rugged individuals are often stranded in the deserts of our making or un-rescued castaways on a lonely ocean. Nature’s forces do not find any value in us.

How then is value found? Nothing has a value unless it is redeemed and some way paid for. On the television program “Antiques Road Show” appraisers give all sorts of objects a monetary value. The owner may think of herself as rich because the appraiser said the antique object was worth a hundred-thousand dollars. But ask yourself, “Has anything changed?” The owner of the object is still the same person, the object is still the same, and nothing has changed. No one is richer and no one is poorer. How come?  Well, no one has offered to buy the object. Not until an offer is made and the money paid has anything been changed.

I see that as a fact of our lives. We may give our selves a sense of personal value. I am valuable to others, I suppose, but there is no truly good way to measure that value.  Further, my value is only a self-serving statement. Life will carry on without me. The world was alive long before I was an even an idea and the world will continue long after I am no longer a memory.

If I am the lone assessor, my value is limited. But there is more to this story then the value of my self-assessment. Fortunately, God is the one making the assessment. God assessed that my life (your lives, the lives of all humanity) is valuable enough to pay the ultimate price—God’s self in the form of Christ Jesus on the cross was the payment for our redemption!

The price has been paid. We are redeemed, and we are now Christ’s own for ever.  That is the Easter story. Our futures are secure in the embrace of a loving God. Our hope is bolstered by the victory of Jesus over sin and death.

[1] The sacristy is a room, usually adjacent to the sanctuary (the altar, where priests prepare for worship. Usually seasonal vestments are stored in this room and often the vessels used in the Mass or Holy Eucharist are stored in the sacristy.

[2] George Appleton, The Oxford Book  of Prayer, The Oxford University Press, December 2002.

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