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Let Freedom Ring!

From bells that pealed the declaration of independence from England on July 4, 1776… to Union soldiers that carried the news of emancipation to slaves and slave owners in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865… to a preacher’s yearning call from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 to a nation still struggling to establish freedom for all… again and again we have heard the call to let freedom ring. Over this past year, we have heard that call through protests and riots, through the establishment of a new national holiday- Juneteenth on June 19th, and through the words of the nation’s youngest poet laureate Amanda Gorman from the steps of the Capital. In elegant phrases and desperate cries, our nation has heard the yearning of people to know the full blessing of freedom in our land.
Our nation was founded on the premise that “all are created equal.” Granted, it has taken 200 years for us to realize that “all” should include ALL. The ladies, people of color, and those who did not own land were all left out of the original “all” in the Declaration of Independence. While our nation’s pledge of allegiance declares that there should be “liberty and justice for all”, this past year has been a painful reminder that many still feel left out of that promise. When I was studying the election in the fall with my granddaughters, they were amazed at the limited vision of our founding fathers. I think they are equally amazed at the limited vision that they see in our nation today. While we intellectually acknowledge that “all” means ALL… the reality today finds some of our fellow citizens still yearning for the full blessings of liberty. The truth: freedom is still a work in process in our nation. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a prison cell, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” William Lloyd Garrison once wrote, “Enslave the liberties of one, and the liberties of the world are put in peril.” Simply put, for us to be free, for us to enjoy the full blessings of freedom, we must work for the full blessing of freedom for all.
God’s Word teaches us that freedom is a gift from God (John 8:36), and we know that the gifts of God come with responsibility. We are called to love our neighbor because we are loved first by God. We are called to forgive one another, because we are forgiven by the grace of the Savior. We are called to serve one another, because we have been set free.
St. Paul writes to the Galatians:
“For you are called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14
The prophet Isaiah declares:
“Loose the chains of injustice… set the oppressed free… share your food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and clothe the naked… then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear."
Isaiah 58:6
Rev. Peter Marshall, one of the great preachers of 20th century and Chaplain to the US Senate, once wrote: “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right.” Nelson Mandela wrote: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Rosa Parks said, “I want to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free so that others would be free.” Shall I keep on quoting? From the witness of God’s people in the pages of the Bible, to the witness of God’s people across the ages, we hear again and again the call to use God’s gift of freedom to bless our neighbors.
Perhaps the best way to celebrate Juneteeth and the 4th of July is to heed that call to work for a freedom that would bless “all.” May our words and actions honor the One who gave His life so that we could be free
With you on the mission field,
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