Happy Fourth of July!!!!
Today we celebrate 243 years of freedom from Britain.
Our country is 243 years old….this is about twice the age of our church which is 123 years old.
To my knowledge there is no living member who is 123 years old.
There is no one alive today who remembers the inception of our church and no one living today who remembers life in the thirteen colonies controlled by a British Monarch.
In many ways, we celebrate today freedom we do not fully know as we never lived under the British Monarchy.
Some in our congregation who are immigrants might have some idea of what this means as they came from countries where they did not have the right to vote or participate in a democratic process.
For many the freedom of Independence day stands for the beauty of democracy, freedom and the ability to achieve the “American Dream.” These are all wonderful things to celebrate and wonderful liberties to be able to live out.
Many of our stories from scripture tell a similar history of a people who were held captive by other kingdoms and then eventually found freedom.
We also see in scripture the use of the word freedom in a more spiritual way rather than political freedom or physical freedom.
In many ways, freedom and independence is the ability to choose one’s destiny yet we have all experienced utilizing this ability and finding ourselves captive once again. Sometimes our freedom is not our best friend…..even when we are using it to make the right decisions.
Possibly this is why the Biblical writer and apostle Paul defined freedom in more a spiritual sense. In his letter to the Philippians, he closes it in chapter four in thanking the church for all they have done for him. He writes,
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13
Paul wrote this from prison where he was the furthest thing from free. YET, he was CONTENT!
His contentment was brought not brought about by controlling his own destiny but recognizing that he can be free in whatever circumstance because in Christ he could do all things.
Although he did not choose his food in prison he was content…..because he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.
Although he could not communicate with friends often in prison he was content because he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.
Today, as we celebrate our freedom let us also celebrate the true freedom we find in Christ. This is not simply that God has given us free will but that no matter what happens…whether we choose an outcome or someone else chooses it for…..we CAN do all things through Christ who gives us strength!
Our freedom does not depend on our will but on Christ strength!
Today may we hold onto that promise and be free to be content where we are and with what we have…..knowing that when we do a small piece of heaven is found in our hearts.
A safe and Happy 4th of July to all!
See you on Sunday!