April 17, 2019

An Easter Message

“Let the Redeemed of the Lord Be So!”

Peace Sisters and Brothers,

At last we are finally approaching the final days of our Lenten journey. For some Ash Wednesday was just yesterday and for others it seems Ash Wednesday was light years ago. For most of us the Lenten journey is a time when we commit to forty (40) days of prayer, confession, repentance, self-examination, reading scripture, fasting, and reflection. For some Lent is about giving up something thus making Resurrection Sunday more about celebrating personal accomplishments and less about redemption. And for some Easter Sunday becomes a time when personal sacrificing is over. You are now free to indulge in those things such as sweets you gave up for Lent.

Let us be reminded that on Easter Sunday Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. In this one act Jesus paid the price for our sins, buying us back from sin and giving us new life. Sin no longer binds us to a life without hope. We are indeed the redeemed of the Lord, let us be so! Jesus Christ, Redeemer, Savior is risen indeed.

While on my Lenten journey I learned that there is nothing more inspiring than a good redemption story. Last week I witnessed a good redemption story when black professional golfer Tiger Woods won the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Announcers and writers said that this was a good redemption story. I am not sure they realized what they were saying. I believe they were referring to Tiger Woods’s past trials and tribulations. His divorce, his well-documented struggles with addiction to pain drugs as a result of numerous back and knee surgeries. At the age of 43 it was unimaginable that he would ever play golf again let alone win a Professional Golf Association (PGA) sanctioned golf tournament. To win the Masters was unlikely. But on Sunday, April 14, 2019 Tiger Woods did what was not expected, he won the 83rd Masters Golf Tournament despite personal obstacles. The world said Tiger’s win was a good redemption story.

Sisters and brothers, this is a good redemption story. It meets all the requirements of overcoming personal tragedy, having to go through something and culminating by winning the Master’s Golf Tournament. By doing so Tiger Woods redeemed himself so says many people and now counted in the redeemed.

I don’t know Tiger Woods faith belief or what spiritual disciplines he practices but I did learn who really decides what is a good redemption story. It is the Lord.

As a Christian redemption is believing that on Easter Sunday Jesus Christ saved us from our sins.

I am counted among the redeemed as a result of God’s redeeming act in Jesus Christ. An act witnessed by women at the crucifixion and the tomb on Easter Sunday. Yes, I have gone through something as we all can witness too. Yes, I have successfully given up sweets during Lent. But I am reminded that Easter counts me among the redeemed not my personal discipline.

Hearing about Tiger Woods redemption story led me to consider another redemption story taking place at the Master’s Golf Tournament. It is the redeeming power of our Lord in Augusta, Georgia. The reporting of the Tiger Wood’s victory failed to report the other redemption story of the dismantling of white privilege, power and racism. You see the Augusta National Golf Club was founded as a white male only golf club in 1934. In 2019 the Augusta National Golf Club has black and women members and a black Masters champion golfer. We have come a long way.

I wonder how the members of Augusta National Golf Club realized that their power, privilege, wealth and exclusive attitude discriminated and marginalized people of color and women? I wonder how they came to the decision to allow black golfer Lee Elder to play in the Masters Golf tournament in 1975 and become the first black golfer to play in the Masters. I wonder if it was perhaps during their Lenten journey members realized that their exclusive behavior was wrong and confessed their sin. It is difficult to know if they actually did repent of their sin and opened up their membership to God’s diversity based on God’s saving act in Christ. I wonder if they realized they became counted among the redeemed of the Lord. I wonder if they realized they were saved from death by God’s saving act in Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Thank God there is still time in Lent and the time after Easter to claim our identity as the redeemed of the Lord. As we discern our calling during our Lenten journey may we know and believe that there is more to come. More blessings, more redemption, more confession of sin, more realization of the sin of racism, and division. May we know that God calls us to be in unity as we realize our Redeemer still lives.

The Confession of Belhar reminds us that “We, the redeemed of the Lord, must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything, which includes racism, separation, exclusion, Augusta National Golf Club which threatens the unity of the universal Christian church, the redeemed of the Lord, have no place in the church and must be resisted.”

Sisters and brothers be reminded that despite your Lenten journey experience we share a common destiny on Easter Sunday. One that has been bought and paid for such that we have the power to overcome racism, hatred and exclusion in our communities. As we work together to achieve the mission and purpose of the NBPC know that we are united by God’s saving act in Jesus Christ.
My journey to Easter has resulted in the commitment to do everything I can to lead God’s people in navigating the difficult waters of hatred and racism. As you journey to Easter know that you are indeed loved.

Let the redeemed of the Lord BE so in all you do!

Blessings and Happy Easter,


Thomas H. Priest, Jr.
President, National Black Presbyterian Caucus