“Knowing that you were ransomed… not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
1 Peter 1:18-19a

A House in the Sky tells the true story of Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian woman who was kidnapped and held hostage for over a year in Somalia. Eventually she was rescued after her family raised a huge ransom. This story came to mind when I was reading this passage, as I reflected on friends who are going through a hard season.

As a believer in Jesus, sometimes it feels like God has paid the ransom for us to be free from sin, but he hasn’t yet enacted our rescue. We are still subject to the consequences of sin – war, illness, heartbreak, doubt, fear and loneliness.

Peter reminds his readers not to lose hope in the face of trials because our ransom was not paid with a currency that will ever pass away. There are millions of dollars spent to buy freedom for hostages around the world, and the amounts boggle our minds because they can be higher than we’ll ever see in our lifetime, but we know that we would pay the same or more to save our loved ones. Regardless of the amount, nobody would ever pay a ransom and then leave their loved one to rot. How much more will God rescue us, who have been freed by a price that Christ paid with his blood?

Yes, trials will come to us. Our freedom has been bought, but when outside forces hold us down, we can face those circumstances as freed people whose rescue is certainly on the way.

Advent 2015 – Hope

In keeping with this week of advent, I have been reflecting on hope, and this is the song I keep coming back to. Take a listen, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have been!

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Advent 2015

advent 1The Christmas season is approaching, and stores are already sparkling with tinsel and wreaths. I’ve ordered my first gifts online, and my calendar for December is already half full with commitments big and small. Leaves are still clinging to the trees outside, and we’ve decided where to place the Christmas tree in our new apartment.

[“Obviously,” you think – except I wrote these words two weeks ago before Remembrance Day had even passed.]

It is possible to spend so much time getting ready for Christmas that the holiday itself passes by in a blur of peppermint extract and paper snowflakes, and when Christmas is over we sigh with relief and hunker down to nap off the calories.

Enter Advent.

In the church calendar, the Christmas season doesn’t even begin until Dec 25 – the weeks leading up to it prepare us and lead us to reflect on the season and the days following Christmas, the actual Christmas season, when radio stations have gone back to regular programming and many Christmas trees are packed up or dragged down the driveway.

I need advent this year more than I have before, or at least I feel my need for it more. My heart weighs heavy filtering the realities of our present through my hope for the future, praying for loved ones and strangers and myself, and I don’t want to rush through the waiting. Advent is more than 24 days of tiny chocolates hiding behind cardboard windows – it echoes the wait for a Messiah through generations. Advent holds space for us to remember that hope, love, peace and joy are not just sparkly words for holiday cards but soul-sustaining promises from God to his people.