Saturday, April 23, 2011


I have been learning about Passover and while my knowledge is pretty rudimentary, I gather that it is a time to commemorate the Exodus -- when the Israelites were released from slavery in Egypt following all those nasty plagues God sent down on the Egyptians. The Israelites did not have time to do anything but flee, as they apparently were not given notice that their slavery was coming to an end -- so off they went into the desert.

I already know a lot about Easter -- we are commemorating that Christ died and rose from the dead. He was crucified unjustly and put in the grave, but the pain and injustice resulted in transformation as Jesus Christ took on a new life -- a better life.

I believe in redemption. I believe that each of us is capable of shedding our past and becoming a new and better version of ourselves. And I believe that we can free ourselves from the things that hold us captive, and find a new and better life.

As we celebrate Passover and Easter -- and likely some additional holidays of which I am unaware and do not have appropriate socks to celebrate -- I have been thinking a lot about redemption and new beginnings. And I have been thinking about redemption within community -- that is, how other people support or impede redemptive efforts.

Recently on Facebook something was going around that was basically a "string up and tar and feather and etc. Michael Vick" kind of petition thing. You will recall that he is the football player convicted of abusing/killing dogs -- and you might imagine that I was all over that Facebook movement -- but I wasn't.

Instead I reflected about how a person can ever redeem him or herself when other people will not stop punishing the sinner.

I am a fan of accountability and justice, but not revenge. What is the difference? Actions have consequences -- a crime carries with it a sentence, and justice and accountability require that a person "pay" for the crime, but once paid any additional consequence is nothing but revenge -- and that is not cool.

But I think one cannot start the process of redemption or new life until one acknowledges the old self or the old state or the old sin -- could God save the Israelites from slavery if they did not believe they were slaves? No, there has to be recognition that change is needed.

And so I think there has to be some kind of acknowledgment and/or accountability as part of the redemption process. This might be a prison sentence or a fine -- or a simple and heartfelt apology. But I think redemption involves something from which we are being redeemed -- and if we cannot think and deal with what that is -- well, we don't get redeemed, I guess.

So back to community and redemption -- we have the opportunity to support each other in our redemptive efforts. Once justice has been served -- as decided by those with the power to decide what is just -- our challenge is to accept that the debt is paid, and that redemption is both possible and underway.

And so during this season of new beginnings, I hope we will extend support to those who want to change -- including ourselves. Each of us has the ability to escape our personal slavery and I think the Israelites had it right -- Just Do It. Don't waste time dwelling on the unfortunate state -- just make the change and move ahead without waiting for the bread to rise.

Yes, the new terrain is scary but leap forward in history and see that endings are also new beginnings, and that what feels like torture and death is a transformation to something better.

So offer up those sins, seek forgiveness, be willing to be held accountable and make things right -- and in doing these things you will be redeeming yourself, along with the other imperfect, humble and self-aware people who are doing the same thing.

I guess we are all on an exodus of sorts, aren't we? Please pass the matzo...


  1. So well said!!!! Amen and I am SURE that this will be just as inspirational as anything that we will hear on Easter Sunday - Happy New Beginnings to All

  2. I am a big believer in redemption, forgiveness, restorative justice, all of it. People must answer for wrongdoings, certainly, but there must also be opportunities for positive change. Otherwise we just throw people away.

    But one of the saddest aspect of being an adult, (and therefore accountable) for me has been in the acceptance of consequences. The worst has been when my own actions have hurt someone else, and really, there is no way to make it right. We can only go forward, changed, and that is just what is so. I do believe that once we know better, we do better, but there is sometimes no "do-over" that will be adequate. Guilt feels like the only appropriate answer, because it's the only chance to in some small way atone.

  3. So true -- sometimes we cannot make things right.

    Living with the reality that our actions hurt another or even mortally wounded a relationship is a heavy burden, but when we learn from it -- as you say - and go forward with a commitment to "better" then the pain and loss has some meaning.

    But we when spin lies and illusions to excuse our actions -- well, that just hammers in the nails on the coffin. Brave and good people accept accountability -- it is a better antidote to guilt than excuses, I think...

  4. It's interesting, isn't it? Because the atonement mirror is a brutally truthful one to gaze into; but it is paradoxically the only one that will really show you how to grow and change for the better. But only you can look at yourself there. No one can see the truth for you in a way that will be meaningful.