Sunday, October 16, 2011

Not Recycled ... Redeemed

Plastic tubs and bottles are piling up beside the sink.  Each one has been rinsed and now awaits the trip to the garage.  The bin beside the trash can is overflowing with egg cartons, broken down cereal boxes, junk mail and papers from school.  This fabric bin is also waiting patiently to be carted out to the garage to be sorted.

A bin for paper.
A bin for boxes.
A bin for plastics and tin.
A bag for glass.

Once a month we drag the overloaded bins to the curb.  When the recycling truck arrives, the girls run to the window to watch the men empty the boxes and bins into the specific receptacle.  They are careful to keep the recyclables separate, even reaching in a few times to resort our mistakes.  The workers are conscientious and carefully stack our now empty and reusable containers beside the garage door.  Later I will slide them back to their spots in the garage and we will fill them again.

Where do those #1's and #5's go?  What happens to the unwanted catalogues and math worksheets?  What is the future for the empty wine bottle with the pretty animal print label?

While those items do have a future, there is not a tangible value assigned to them. While it is true that they are on their way to being melted, shredded, crushed for new packaging ... but they are essentially trash.

They are garbage, 

One bottle sitting beside the dish drain has a different story, however.


It would appear that in a few states, you can get some spare change for recycling this bottle.  A few nickels and dimes here and there.  You couldn't make a living out of cashing in your unwanted bottles and cans, but you could maybe buy another soda!

This policy of buying back your bottles has a different twist than simply recycling.  By returning the bottle, a deposit (however nominal) is received in exchange.  A value has been placed on this empty container.  

It has been redeemed,
bought back.

In Ephesians, chapter 1, Paul uses this imagery to explain to his readers about the mystery of of Christ's death on the cross.  Keep in mind that this was looooong before curbside recycling was even developed!

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. ... 13When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:7-8;13-14, emphasis mine)

Who knew that a daily chore of rinsing and sorting our recyclables would lead to a teachable moment for me?  And, I hope, for you, too!  

You are redeemed.  
You are valuable.  
You have been reclaimed.  
You have been saved.
You have been bought back at a price - Jesus's death on the cross.

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