A Sermon preached in The Church of the Resurrection - Blarney on Sunday 23rd June 2013
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Freedom is a call on each one of our lives … we all want to be free … we see this through the world history … nobody wants to be controlled … we see freedom fighters, we see the human rights of freedom being enshrined in laws. We Have, desire and enjoy freedom.
As Children are growing up we see them wanting freedom to choose, freedom to go where they want to go, to do what they want to do. Parents have to tread a very difficult path … allowing freedom, whilst also protecting their kids from harm.
As humans, as Christians we have been given freedom to choose … this is the fundamental God Given right … all of us can do what we want to do. What we do is up to us how we use this freedom.
When our freedom is removed … we become enslaved, imprisoned … the decisions we make, the circumstances we find ourselves can remove that freedom from us.
In our gospel reading today we see that there is a man who has had his freedom severely restricted by evil … his life is less than what it could and should be. We see he is outcast, on the edge of society but we also see Jesus’ concern for him is to be made whole, healed and sent back to community.
This man, in Luke's account is not only confined to a life on the outside of community but also his physical confines in terms of chains and shackles are limiting his movement. With a few authoritative words from Jesus his situation turns around and his life changes forever.
I recently came across this piece of street art which is in Philadelphia … it is fascinating take on society … but for me as I look on it … it speaks so much about our society today … shaping us into its mould and the freedom that is possible ... The artist to my knowledge doesn’t say anything about Christ but as I look at this the struggle inside each human being, having being moulded by our circumstances desiring to be free and in the end finding that freedom, where it truly is to be found- In Christ… It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Huge Challenge for us this morning as we gaze upon our readings today …
<< God spoke to Elijah … and asked him “what are you doing here?” twice in this passage … he had ran away from his responsibilities … he had chosen his own way … he was 100’s of miles away from where he should have been … God met him there and brought him back … told him what he should be doing. >>
Then in the New Testament passage we see someone shackled in his circumstances … we aren’t told how he had ended up in this position, what decisions he had made, what was done to him by others but we do know that evil had gripped him … and then we we see that he is restored to wholeness.
One of the illustrations which Scripture Union uses for this reading is that of a jigsaw puzzle … he catch a glimpse of what it could be … but the parts come together and make up the complete picture.
Today’s Gospel reading is picture of the possibility of freedom … which is linked to wholeness, which is linked to all the bits of the jigsaw coming together and the possibility of a new start.
On Friday Night I had the opportunity to meet a friend of Doug and Olwyn’s ... Greg a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in the USA … He was telling of an encounter with someone in Dublin… Greg was speaking a service and told the congregation of the amazing news that those who are in Christ have past sins forgiven, Present sins forgiven and future sins forgiven. After the service … the guy came up to Greg and said … wow that’s a fantastic deal …count me in! and then started telling his wife about it as well!
Folks … We have freedom … freedom to choose … with this freedom of course comes responsibility what will we choose to do, what is God calling us to do?, what is God’s best for us?
It may look like our lives are messed up … that there are different parts of us all over the place … but we are called to wholeness. We are called to enjoy life, to be complete in Christ, broken lives made new.
The jigsaw will come together, sometimes It’s easy, other times it takes a long time … may we find our freedom in Christ. Our potential in Christ, may we not be moulded into expectations of what others think of us, or what the world expects us to do. but allow ourselves to be free to do what God wants us to do. To be bold and strong for Christ.
The church is an organisation which should be declaring freedom, which should be allowing people to be who they were created to be. We should be equipping each other to use our God given gifts and to dream big dreams.
I get passionate about this because I see so many people who are moulded into the ways others see them, That may be pressure from work, family or peer pressure from friends … people who are struggling with their identity, or they have just given up in their struggle and are addicted to things of this world and simply feel that they are in a mould that they cannot break out of.
I’m sure all of us know individuals who have huge potential but due to situations find themselves hemmed into moulds, situations where things could be much better for them. Freedom is what we are called to speak.
The Christian Gospel, the good news we proclaim is freedom to the captives, forgiveness to the sinner, healing to the hurting, purpose of life to searching.
How have we been molded … for the good, but also negatively … how do we break out of the mould of the world and be bold, be strong for the Lord. That’s something each person will have to look at for themselves but I get excited when talking about freedom, because freedom invariably means change, it means action, it means prayer, it may mean pain, but we are free. We are people of freedom.
Again in the New testament passage … The guy was told to go back home and tell …
As Christians we are called to use our freedom to bring freedom to those we encounter … Just as Jesus did.
Our world so often views Christians as people who are so bound up with rules and regulations but we are also people of immense freedom … we have been set free from our sins, we know where we stand within eternity… let us share this freedom with the world around us. And let us know this freedom for ourselves.