Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oh Freedom

Readings for Sunday 1st July 2007 the 5th Sunday after Pentecost-Proper 8 in the season of the year
1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 and Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

It is for freedom that we have been set free
this inviting gambit that Paul sets out at the beginning of the 5th chapter of the letter to the Church in Galatia
is deceptively simple.
But it is worth clinging on to.
Most of us find it slips away all too easily.
It is not so much that we are enslaved
or locked up in prison
or even that we find our rights curtailed ny the State
(although all those things can be true)
but rather that we actuallu surrender our freedom.
This idea is perhaps graphically illustrated in a person like Nelson Mandela
who was imprisoned (as we know) for political reasons in apartheid ridden South Africa
What ever we may make of Mandela's particular cause,
it is his decision whilst in jail that he would no longer carry the burden of imprisonment
that points us to the reality of this truth of the Gospel.
It is for freedom that we have been set free.
Mandela came to realise that as long as he hung on to the bitterness and hatred
of his captors
that the rocks and stones that he was being required to smash
were indeed smashing him.
The prime example of this sort of attitude is Jesus himself
who could have condemned those who condemned him
and justifiably
steadfastly refuses to do.
We hear Jesus saying....Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.

The key
It is for freedom that we have been set free.
This seems to be a key to understanding
how we lose our freedom
and become diminished as persons.
We lose sight of what we are doing.
Nelson Mandela regained sight of what needed to happen
and reclaimed his freedom.
But look at those apostles in those little vignettes today
Realising that they have been given power by Jesus
.....when they face opposition from people who disagree
their response is ....Should we use our power to zap them?
Jesus will not be sucked into this sort of vortex.

or to those enthusiasts caught up in the thrill of the moment
who want to throw everything to the wind
and make grand gestures.
Jesus says.....True freedom comes not from grand gestures
leaving home, making loud proclamation,
fine sounding phrases
But True freedom comes when
realising the consequences
you embrace the future
and the difficulties.
When faced with challenge and barrier
to those things we have found fundamental
instead of turning round and backing off
we keep our shoulder to the wheel
and press on.

True freedom
and it is for freedom that we have been set free
will have consequences.
it requires commitment
it requires that we not give it away

it will change our hearts
and grow the fruit of the Spirit
(this indeed will be a test of whether or not we are on track)
So much of what we hear as 'gospel'
does not seem to foster: patience, goodness, kindness, self-control, faithfulness, gentleness

which are the hall marks of true freedom.

Some ideas to explore this week
Where is God calling me to be free?
Have I allowed myself to be enslaved by hanging on to attitudes of bitterness and hatred that far from satisfying me are actually destroying me?
How do I need to open myself to the ministry of reconciliation which might set me free for this?

Talk to Jesus about one area of your life where he is calling you to be free?
What do you need to do to begin today?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Back from the dead

Readings set for this Sunday can be taken as listed below. These are for Sunday 24th June 2007, also called the 4th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 7

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a and Psalms 42 and 43
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

Most of us do not easily identify with the idea of being possessed
If we believe in it at all
it is something that happens to someone else
who is not quite right in the head,
who is severely stressed,
perhaps even a religious nut.

If we think, though, of what the idea of being possessed is all about
and lay aside the demonic and supernatural stuff
we can easily appreciate
what 'possession', 'oppression'...perhaps we call these things
is all about.

We lose control to an external force
we hand it over
and instead of being free
we are enslaved
we no longer drive our lives
rather we are driven.
Does this sound familiar?
Yes, it does.
We can all readily identify
places where we are driven rather than we drive.

Easy examples are addictions: alcohol, food, drugs
or anything which begins to become the complete focus of our attention.
Those are the sort of things that affect
We are perhaps less apt to name
the things to which we are addicted
by which we are obsessed

You might take time to ask the question
What drives my life?
Where have I handed over control
  • to my own desires to have everything under control
  • to my need to have more and more possessions
  • to my desperate need to be liked by everyone
  • or anyone of the myriad of other things that possess us
Their name is legion!

What to do?
The reading from Galatians for today (here)
tells us about the change
that has changed
the relationship between God and humanity.
In terms of that discussion
it reveals how we have been transferred
from a relationship with God
bound by formal rules and legislation
which Paul argues is a kind of slavery and imprisonment
even in a religious situation there is not freedom
and we need to be set free.

We are set free by coming into relationship with Jesus
this is relationship
as opposed to contract.
It is not an arrangement whereby we are give a handbook and a set of rules
rather God gives himself to us
and this sets us free.

We should not be surprised then as we see
the possessed, the oppressed and the obsessed
encounter Jesus
as we read about in this morning's Gospel
their lives are transformed
we are set free.

So this man, possessed we are told by a multitude of demons
being drawn into relationship with Jesus
is delivered.
This is for you and for me
the truth too.

We need to note
that this confronting opression is not necessarily an easy thing.
Pigs hurtle off the cliff!
as we rid ourselves of a lifetime of addiction/possesssion
do not expect that the drivers will go without a fight.

This week
  • Ask the Spirit to show you where you have handed over control of your life
  • Talk to Jesus, in order to open and strengthen the relationship. What does he speak into your situation?
  • Pray for the courage to let Jesus free you.
Lord speak my name and set me free. Amen