Let Freedom Ring
July 3, 2011We are usually not early for worship. So imagine our surprise when we arrived at 8:30 for a worship that began at 10:30! At one point I confess that we talked about leaving; Thankfully we did not. The sermon we heard was worth waiting for. Dr. Jerry Harper is the preacher at First Baptist Church in Oriental. Truthfully, I thought the worship would be God Bless America to the "nth" degree with very little else to mull on. Dr. Harper's message was not that, in fact, it was a challenging call to live the biblical imperative of freedom as called forth in both the New and the Old Testaments. He opened with Leviticus 25: 9-10, saying that this is the inscription that is on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. "Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants." The secondary text came from Luke 4 when Jesus opens the scroll of Isaiah and reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." The preacher opened wide the gates of freedom to all the inhabitants of the land, those who are oppressed in any way and he called forth the community gathered to be about the business of working for freedom in every place in any voice we have. My conclusion is that there are people all around who are calling forth the freedom that the Mosaic law down to Jesus envisioned. Freedom for all persons to enjoy the fullness and blessing of creation. Freedom to work for equitable wages. Freedom to worship in whatever way that leads them to God. Freedom to imagine and dream outside-the-box dreams and work to see them lived. This is not an "I win-You lose" freedom; it's "win-win" for all. As we pause this July 4th to give thanks for freedom, let us resolve anew to seek freedom and assure freedom for all inhabitants of this land, all inhabitants of God's creation. Let us be bold to open our hands to the stranger, a hand up to the weary and a shoulder to those who weep. The world is groaning for liberty and a freedom that Paul in his letter to the Galatians says is the reason we ourselves are free. Let freedom ring anew in this land and may God be blessed! "For you were called to freedom, friends; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' " Galatians 5: 13 - 14.