The Freedom Bit
July 3, 2012On the eve of another July 4th, thoughts turn to freedom proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence of these United States as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Always turning an ear and an eye to examination of where I am as a citizen of the world and these United States, and living in a time when freedom is far from the Pauline call to the churches of Galatia, I sit here pondering what on earth is the state and condition of "freedom that will set us free" and where is the freedom so many have fought for taking us today? Parker Palmer in his book, Hidden Wholeness, speaks a little to the issue. He speaks of the unbridled nature of the culture around us, a culture that is not whole, a community that is broken. Horse people are familiar with the bit and bridle of horse training and riding. The first time I saw the bit, I thought it was cruel to put a metal bar in the mouth of the horse and strap on a bridle pull that would raise the curved bar into the horses's palate to control it and slow it down and alter it's course. The idea of a bit and bridle, however, seem appropriate in a culture where so much is unbridled....unbridled spending, unbridled borrowing, unbridled consumerism, "unbridled competition" that masks itself as self-made-ism. Not unlike the libertine license of the Roman Empire to which the New Testament voices speak. And just as they make a call to something different, so today's call is also to a different way, a freedom that will grow and perpetuate the freedom envisioned by Jesus and Paul, and perhaps the framers of the Declaration to which we so often refer. The Freedom Bit is absent.... in a representative government that is not working for all the people it represents, in an economic system that in its un-bridled state is dividing us into haves and have-nots, in a church that is bent on self-preservation and protection of the status quo, to a freedom that is more imposed and less invited, right down to my own pocket book, my own faith, my own front door. So on the eve of July 4th 2012, is the Freedom Bit we need to bridle on the "bit" of self-control? The "bit" of accountability and personal responsibility? The "bit" of truth and self-awareness? The "bit" of compassion and concern that all the world be free? What is the "bit" that will slow us down and alter our course? What is the "bit" you think we need? Are we bold enough to name it? Or will our descent be recorded alongside the others who have squandered the opportunity and blessing of the gift of freedom? Each of us has an answer and a call. Are we strong enough to respond? Let freedom ring... and to God be the glory! Amen.