Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Beginning of Freedom

We finished the sermon series last Sunday on Beginnings in the Old Testament. We ended on the triumphant note of the Exodus. “The Beginning of Freedom…” I talked about freedom as being bound to the right one, and the right things. And, in my haste, I made a mistake about Nelson Mandela. I told his story as the first Black President of South Africa. And, I said he was the first African-American President. I guess I was thinking about our own President. In one way, I know that was absolutely wrong. He is a Black African and a great man who suffered 27 years in prison and came out of prison a seasoned and mature leader who became President. On the other hand, when I think of freedom, I think of our own country and how proud we all are of the freedom that we live and espouse. So, it was quite natural for me to make the mistake of calling him African-American. I guess it’s a pride thing for me. I know we didn’t come up with the idea of freedom, but we have been a people who, for better or worse, have lived into the notion and vision of freedom. Moses was called by God to lead his people to freedom. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the bondage of slavery…” And, I am going to use Moses, says God. The week before I said that slavery was forever to be a memory in Israel’s history, but it was overcome by the memory of freedom and Exodus. For us Christians, the ultimate Exodus is Easter. So, on Easter, we read the story of the dancing Israelites coming out of Egypt. Now, last Sunday, we read and talked about the Ten Commandments as the seal of the Covenant of God with Israel. The law was and is for freedom. There is no such thing as absolute freedom; to be free is to be bound to the right One, the true and living God. The law is a gift and points us to God as the giver of all life and grace. True freedom is living out the relationship with God and with each other that we were created for. Mandela says that when he was put in prison he was concerned with his own freedom. Then, over time, he reached a point where he became concerned with the freedom of others, black and white. Mandela said that both the oppressor and the oppressed have to be set free. The oppressor needs to be set free from hatred and fear; the oppressed needs to be set free from slavery. Mandela said that all must be free. In our own world, we keep watching to see what will happen in Egypt. There is in their struggle a very real wish to be free. No government has a right to harm their own people. But, what will emerge? Right now, it’s a struggle for power. Often we see that in our own country. The quest for true freedom deteriorates into a wish to keep power for my own group, rather than a wish for the good of all people. As Christians, we know that freedom is a gift of God, and the wish for freedom is planted in every heart. We also know that we cannot be truly free if we are trying to live out our lives apart from the God who made us and gave us life in the first place. Blessings! Dave Nichols

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

That Jesus would be healing comes at no surprise to any of us. Nor, is it surprising that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. So, when the re...