Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th of July, pt 2

After a day celebrating the Fourth at a WWII memorial fundraiser at our local cemetery, watching Transformers, going over to a friend's for swimming and now waiting for the fireworks to follow a Single-A baseball game down the street, I think it's safe to say I've had a full day. And it was much better than the typical "beer, bbq, and blowing things up" that so many associate with this holiday. Actually taking the time to remember what this holiday is for. I wish more would.

So on to part 2. This is what I first prepared for my communion last Sunday. It's incomplete because I changed the theme midstream to what you read in part 1. But it's still worth reflecting on.

Wednesday is the 4th of July. A day to celebrate the birth of our country and the freedoms we have. Most of us have the day off. Many of us have plans we’ve been looking forward to for weeks. This is “the” summer holiday. But it only comes once a year. Once a year to wave a flag, sing the star spangled banner, go to a parade. Do we forget our freedoms the rest of the year? Do we go about our day to day forgetting our freedoms and living like we have none? Living like slaves? Living with the yoke of oppression? Of course not. Our freedoms allow us to live our lives the way we want. For life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every day, whether we think about or not, celebrate it or not.

But those freedoms would mean nothing if not for the sacrifice of Jesus. For what good is freedom in the world if we are enslaved to sin? Our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness would be for selfish gain, no matter the cost, no matter who is hurt. Christ died to give us freedom. A different freedom from what we have in this country. A freedom from the shackles of sin, the influence of the world, and eternal condemnation. This is a freedom that I hope we celebrate more than just once a year. This is why we celebrate communion this morning, and continue to do so every week.

But just as with the freedoms we have in this country, when we go about our regular routine, do we give thought to the freedoms we have in Christ? Sadly, many of us do live as though we’re still slaves to our sinful nature, deceived by the world, hopeless of our futures. We carry a weight we don’t need to. We feel like our lives can never change, never get better. The sin we’ve struggled with for as long as we can remember, we face every day. We look around and like David, see wicked men prosper while righteous men are downtrodden. This isn’t the freedom Jesus gave us when he died on the cross. This isn’t how we are supposed to live in Christ. John 10:10 reads, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Also, in Matthew 11 beginning in verse 28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

This is the freedom worth celebrating daily, not reserved for a holiday once a year. Celebrating with transformed lives and renewed hearts, not fireworks and bbq’s. Celebrate the freedom we have in Jesus. Live as we are free. Give thanks to God.

Amen. Happy 4th of July.

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