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?

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