So, this is the 4th of July weekend. A lot of things are going on to celebrate what the 4th of July is for us, whether that be cook-outs or fireworks shows. It comes down to a celebration of freedom. Its a luxury that we hold dear to our hearts in this country: Freedom. We think about the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom to be who we are.
But today, we can celebrate another type of freedom:
a freedom that comes from our baptismal rites;
a freedom that frees us from the baggage of the past;
a freedom that tells us we are no longer held in bondage to sin, or for Luther that would be bondage to being curved in on the self, selfishness, self-centeredness.
Martin Luther was known for his paradoxes, very much so.
Lutheranism embraces those paradoxical statements, acknowledging that life is not black or white but a lot of gray in-between.
Similar, so is the notion of freedom.
One of Luther’s most popular writings is entitled “The Freedom of a Christian” and I am going to quote, perhaps the most common quote from that whole text, because it deals with this notion of freedom:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
These two these seem to contradict each other. If, however, they should be found to fit together they would serve our purpose beautifully.
In the United States, we hold our freedom dear to our hearts. We celebrate it each year.
As Christians, we gather to celebrate our freedom in Christ. We’ve been freed from the bondage of sin. We’ve been freed from being curved in on the self and self-centeredness. But, we don’t always live into that freedom. The act that freed us from that in our own lives (lifetime), we tie in with our baptismal promises. One promise speaks to vocation: what God is calling us to do and to be. This vocation is to be one who proclaims the WORD in word and deed, one who seeks justice, who acts with compassion and mercy, who loves, and who serves.
These are all qualities that I heard from the Raymond family and Boyd regarding Norman and his life: proclaiming the WORD in word and deed, acting with compassion and mercy, loving and serving.
In honesty, that is what we’ve been freed from sin to do. We’re freed in order to live into who we’re called to be. Yet, it is something that we don’t necessarily embrace or celebrate each time we come to church, but we should. In fact, it is something we should celebrate every day of the week, every moment, every breath and we don’t.
There is a saying that has been going around Facebook for a few years now that I absolutely love:
“You have the freedom to choose, but you are not freed from the consequences of your choice”.
We hear about our duties as Americans with those freedoms.
We hear about the duties that we have as Christians to live our calling in this world, but we don’t always live into it.
This 4th of July weekend, as we celebrate our freedom, I invite us to reflect and celebrate our freedom as Christians, as one that is freed from the bondage of sin. We have been freed from being turned in on the self, but that freedom comes so that we respond to it.
How are we embracing our freedom as Christians in our world today?
How are we embracing our freedom in our time? and in our place?
How are we using our freedom to live out our baptismal promises?
How are we using our freedom to proclaim the WORD in word and deed?
How are we using our freedom to seek justice?
How are we using our freedom to act with compassion and mercy?
How are we using our freedom to love and serve ALL people?
I invite each one of us to reflect on that as we celebrate this weekend.
Scriptures were Romans 6: 12-23 and Matthew 10: 40-42
Originally Preached on 2017 July 02 at Gloria Dei (Kelso, WA).