What does it mean To Make Amends?

In season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character Angel is brought back from Hell by some mystical power. Upon his return, he finds himself haunted by images of those whom he has wronged.

You see, Angel is a vampire — one with a soul. For hundreds of years, Angel delighted in torturing and killing innocents, taking sadistic pleasure in driving helpless men, women, and children, out of their minds.

As a demon, Angelus has no conscience. But when he is reensouled, Angel begins to feel remorse beyond anything a mortal man could experience or imagine, for his sins were far greater than any that a mortal man could commit, and they stretched across centuries. This awareness of his sins drives him to despair.

And as his despair reaches its highest point, the faces and voices of Angelus’ victims call out from centuries past an accuse him of his crimes. These hallicunations are manifestations of “The First,” who is evil itself, and whose tools are deception and despair. And each of these hallicunations tells Angel the same thing: Kill Buffy, and you will be free.

Angel cannot bring himself to kill Buffy. He wants to escape the guilt for his evil deeds, and not to perpetuate them. Nevertheless, he cannot live with himself, in the agony of his torment. Convinced that he is irredeemably evil, and that the world would be better off without him, Angel climbs to the top of a hill overlooking Sunnydale, and waits for the sun to bring him deliverance from his guilt. As Buffy begs him, pleads him to come inside and spare his life, Angel looks at her and tells her what she doesn’t understand about depravity: It’s not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It’s the man.

And as he waits for the sun that will bring death to his vampire frame, Angel is surprised to discover flakes of snow falling from the sky. After all, Sunnydale had been experiencing record heat all week. And yet here was snow. And in a flash of realization, Angel understood that the sun would not shine on that Christmas morning, for nature itself would not let him die. Giving up in despair was a coward’s way out, and Angel was meant for more than that. He had more to live for. He must make amends.

This is a powerful image of redemption, and has consistently brought me back to Grace when I have wandered away. It is so easy for me to feel, like Angel, as if my sin overshadows grace. It’s easy to want to give up in despair. But that is the coward’s way out. Grace tells me that redemption is possible, and calls me To Make Amends.

This doesn’t mean that we can earn Grace, or in some way make ourselves worthy of redemption. Rather, our lives out to be lived responsively to Grace. In light of the fact that we are new creations, in light of the fact wehave been brought forth into newness of life, we are called to walk in righteousness. It’s not about earning redemption. It is about living out our redemption.

This is a difficult thing for me to remember, but it is also desperately important. This blog is an attempt for me to live out my redemption, at least intellectually, by exploring new ideas and trying to understand God’s world in light of His perfect Grace. I hope that it blesses you.

6 Comments »

  1. debra TEPPER said,

    NEVER MAKE AMENDS

  2. Barbara& Howard said,

    I don’ t understand your meaning of amends

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