When I was in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago, I bought some raffle tickets. I was in this wonderful little Norwegian shop to buy cookies to complete the favor boxes. This shop is one of the last remnants in that neighborhood of what was once a very large, thriving, and wonderful Norwegian neighborhood. I tell people that the only way I would have grown up more Norwegian was if I grew up in Norway. Everything was Norwegian in my world.
That's all changed, and now this little shop has become Norway central for those who still live there and those that go to pay homage to the past. As I paid for the cookies, I noticed the raffle tickets. Syttende Mai is coming up - Norwegian Constitution Day. It's a day that might be compared to the 4th of July but probably bigger to most Norwegians. The parade will be this Sunday. I'm still praying for a miracle that I can get there but so far, no miracle. As a child I wore my bunad and marched in the heat. The tar in the road usually stuck to my shoes. People joked about how you could fry an egg on the street. My cultural pride was always rewarded by ice cream.
In preparation for the festivities, there is always a raffle. The grand prize is a trip to Norway. I bought a bunch of tickets. I want to win. I really, really, really want to win. I want to go back to Norway.
If I win, I will have to redeem my prize. It will be a glorious day. Almost like those pictures you see when someone stands with a huge check and they won the lottery. I will really be happy. I'll probably have a smile a mile wide and call everyone I know. Since I've already started dreaming about that trip, I will be ready to go when I win.
But there is another redemption that is much more exciting. It was my redemption by God. The Hebrew word for redemption is go'el. It means kinsman redeemer. It reminds us of the story in the book of Ruth. Boaz, her kinsman redeemer lays his claim to her and together they take their place in the lineage of David, and later Jesus.
Haggoel is also a name of God. It means THE REDEEMER. I have been redeemed. I am the prize? Wait, that can't be... me a prize for the holy God. No, it makes sense and sends me to my knees in gratitude and humility. I am redeemed because God is love. I am redeemed because I am His beloved child, formed in the image of God. I am redeemed from all my past, all my sin, all my confusion, all my anguish - I am redeemed.
I guess since I started talking about Brooklyn, and end with redemption, it is fitting to add a video of a group singing a song I sang in the pews of a Norwegian church in Brooklyn.