Inspiration via Junk Mail


(Image courtesy of

I came in to the office yesterday morning and wanted to collaborate with one of the co-workers on a children’s bulletin for the next Sunday I’m preaching.  As I approached her desk with a piece of junk mail in my hand and proceeded to tell her what I was thinking, she asked me, “You got inspired by junk mail?”  Yeah, I did.  I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised by that; I have some quirky ideas that come from some random sources.  Perhaps it’s because we universally seem to despise junk mail.  It crowds our mail boxes, tangible or virtual, and creates huge amounts of waste.  Lucky for me, I’m in the redemption business.  It’s my job to look at things that others have cast aside and see them with new eyes.  I redeem things by putting a new spin on them, shedding light on that which has been cast into darkness, and putting the waste to new work.  It’s a challenge, but I love a good challenge. 

As redeemed people, we are called to be redeemers, according to our inheritance, to accomplish great things in the name of Jesus Christ:

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.  I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.  I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power” (Eph 1:7-19 NRS).

I find that God offers us so many means and opportunities to redeem.  We can redeem people, those cast aside by society by including them in our church.  We can redeem things which have been proclaimed refuse, and left to decay by using them again and honoring our role as Stewards of God’s creation.  We can redeem places by bringing the light of Christ there and not letting the opinions of this world keep us from fulfilling our call to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.  So how do we do this as individuals and start today?  Start simple; look for something that you would easily cast aside or turn your back on and look again.  Perhaps that TV show that is repulsive to you, provides an opportunity about dialogue on the dignity Christ affords all people.  Or maybe that celebrity that’s got everyone buzzing can be an opportunity to talk about what love and compassion has to offer those who offend others.  Redemption involved prayer, creativity, and the desire to embody the Holy Spirit for ourselves and others.  When we seek to redeem, not because we are worthy, but because we know what it means to be redeemed, we extend God’s Grace to a world that needs to know it, too.  There is such beauty in the that.  Redemption is beautiful to all, those who are redeemed, those who are participation in redeeming, and God, from whom redemption first comes.  Take this picture of Saint Catherine of Bologna by artist Sandhi Schimmel Gold made entirely from junk mail:

(Image courtesy of

God of Grace,
When the world looked at me and saw nothing worthy,
You called my your blessed child and lifted my eyes to the hills.
There I saw your glory in Jesus Christ,
And I knew that I was worthy of your love.
Not because of anything I said or did,
But because you proclaimed me so.
In deepest gratitude I come to you in prayer this day.
As you have seen something more in me,
May I see more in others and in this world.
Let me be an instrument of redemption,
So all that I meet with come to see your glory and hear of your mercy.
Open my eyes and extend your love through me.
May I serve you in my willingness to look again,
Use my hands and my mouth according to your will.
Honor and Glory to you, Almighty God.


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