The Soul Feels Its Worth
I love the commercialization of Christmas. I rejoice in it. I revel in it. I see Santa ringing his bell outside of Target and I want to give the guy a hug. “O Holy Night” and all the other Christmas carols start playing on the radio in November and I start singing “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” Then I start heading to the store with a wallet full of plastic. I still haven’t paid off last year’s presents but dang it, I’m ready to celebrate. My soul feels its worth, and I pray to God that with every present I might give, someone else might be reminded of the love of God and His great gift to man in His Son Jesus Christ, Whose blood was spilled to purchase us when gold and silver would not do.
I’ll have to admit though, most of the time growing up, I would learn these songs and never think of them or what they said. My congregation in Staples, Minnesota—Trinity Lutheran—had a great children’s choir. And sometime in October it would be incumbent upon me to cross over and slosh through the snow melt of a muddy church parking lot on the way home and begin preparing for Christmas Eve. Perhaps I thought it a waste of time growing up, but those are fond memories now. Like those piano lessons my mom made me take. It was quintessential, but I was really more interested in the presents under the tree than anything else.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I began to contemplate the lyrics to the songs I learned by heart long ago. I have to say, “the soul felt its worth” caught me off guard at first. There were other things I learned by heart as a kid growing up. Every week Sunday after Sunday I would stand, or kneel depending on the church I was in, and confess that I was a “poor miserable sinner” that I had sinned against God in “thought word and deed” and that “I deserved nothing but his present and eternal punishment.” There were variations on this, and I get them mixed up from time to time, but the truth came out in them all. In and of myself I am worthless. Everything I have been given is by the grace of God “without any merit or worthiness in me.” So then why did my dad the pastor allow us to sing something that might imply our souls had worth? What is the worth of a poor miserable sinner’s soul?
Ever contemplate the worth of something? Wine is one of those things, isn’t it? What makes one bottle worth more than another? Taste? Reputation? The story you can tell about drinking it? I once ended up paying $600 for a bottle of Tokai in Budapest. I suppose I should have looked at the price before I started conversation with her. Neither my friend nor I thought the wine or the conversation were worth $600. Especially not after we paid less than two dollars for a steak dinner and the same bottle of wine earlier that evening. (It was the 90s.) But not being pummeled by the goons working as bouncers for the club before being thrown in jail seemed worth $600. Neither of us wanted to call our first sergeants in Italy to come bail us out in Hungary. So we paid.
My friend is still embarrassed by that, but we still drink Tokai in honor of the story when we get together. As horrifying as the concept of a Hungarian jail cell was, I have to say, I’d pay quite a bit more to get out of hell if I could. The truth is, a thing is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. It doesn’t matter much how much it cost to make, or how rare it is. If someone is willing to spend a million dollars on a bottle of Tokai, it is worth a million dollars. If someone is only willing to pay ten dollars for a bottle of Tokai it is only worth ten dollars.
“You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19
This is the soul’s worth. This is what your soul is worth. This is what your neighbor’s soul is worth, your wife’s soul, your child’s soul. Yes, your child’s soul is worth the blood of a child born on a night divine, the infinite worth of God’s own blood shed on the cross for you and for me. This is the worth our souls feel on the night of our Savior’s birth. Jesus felt it was worth that to bail you out of hell. We didn’t have to call Him from heaven to earth to do it. He just came and paid the price. And that might just be worth the price of a bottle of Tokai to celebrate.
Rev. Bror Erickson serves as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Farmington, New Mexico. He graduated from Concordia University Irvine in 2000 where he studied apologetics under Dr. Rosenbladt, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 2004. He likes to translate the works of Bo Giertz and Hermann Sasse. He also enjoys writing reviews for Amazon.com and critiquing modern culture with the Gospel.
Bo Giertz wrote this book drawing upon the exegetical insights that he received from his mentor Anton Fridrichsen before, during and after his trip to Palestine in the early 1930's. The book is a third-person retelling of the Gospels that brings into account various Old Testament references and the contemporary interpretations of those passages by the Jews of Jesus' day as well as contemporary events throughout the Roman Empire,