Freedom Sunday 26 February 2012

Jesus’ freedom march” Freedom Sunday 26 February 2012

 

I encountered three very moving testimonies about freedom this week…

 

Saw Phantom of the Opera last night @ PWC. Well done. Struggle about the tragic figure of the Phantom who suffered from physical deformity and allowed that to disfigure his spirit so that his love for the heroine offered her something more like slavery than freedom.

 

Christina tells the Phantom that horrible things have disfigured him but the most horrible disfiguration is what he has allowed to happen to his soul. He alone can change that- if he doesn’t face that hard truth there can be no basis for true love to exist.

 

I also started reading “Country of My Skull” by Afrikaner journalist Antjie Krog about the work and testimonies brought to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings after the end of Apartheid. It was often excruciatingly difficult to choose the way of truth and reconciliation over that of vengeance and retribution, but it had to be done for there to be a future for that country after the horrors of racial division experienced over decades.

 

If the Truth and Reconciliation Committee did not do that hard work, and face hard truths, there would be no future beyond the slavery of racial hatred anchored in past wrongs. There could be no basis for a future with different races.

 

We also just saw the Freedom Sunday video by Miriam. 27 million slaves worldwide today! International Justice Mission (IJM) has a difficult job to do but unless they do it, many people will not ever experience a life of freedom. They will remain in the bondage of slavery until they die. Without facing systemic and personal evil there can be no real basis for offering people lives of freedom and hope for a better life.

 

Old Testament: God’s covenant with Noah and all living things. I won’t drown everyone again even if I am angered with you. God will never again wipe out all flesh by a flood! The rainbow will be a sign of covenant between God and all people- all living things.

 

But for a covenant to take effect someone has to do something. The two parties sign and both parties are responsible for keeping their part. In a will there is the testator and the inheritor. The testator must die for the will to come into effect, If I hire you on to work for me you have to do the work you promised and I have to pay he wages I have promised.

 

What are the parts of God’s covenant with Noah and all flesh after him?

God’s part: he won’t wipe us out by flood again

Our part: we won’t get wiped out.

 

The rainbow was a sign of God’s forgiveness and grace. God’s mercy and love that would one day triumph forever. It was a sign of what was coming when God would not just not wipe out all flesh by flood…God would save all flesh and not allow it to be wiped out even by death itself.

 

Without God facing the hard truth of our sinfulness, our mortality and unfaithfulness, our inability to save or help ourselves, there would be no basis for hope for humanity- no chance for a freedom from the fear of death, or the forgiveness of sins that frees us from the slavery and tyranny of the past.

 

God made the promise with every living creature that he would never again destroy all flesh by a flood. The rainbow was a sign just as this Holy Communion is a sign of God’s promise. But for a promise to be trusted there must be some proof that the person is trustworthy.

 

Jesus death and resurrection bring covenant into effect.

Jesus’ death and resurrection is the proof that God’s promises can be trusted. He can be trusted not to destroy the world by water because He has chosen to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers- He has destroyed death itself so that even if a flood should come, it could not now destroy all flesh. He has raised up our flesh to be beyond the power of floods to destroy forever.

 

Jesus’ freedom march for all flesh begins today!

Jesus did this through the work of the cross, He performed in Jerusalem. When Jesus heads for Jerusalem he is beginning His freedom march for all flesh.

 

A Freedom March is about doing something to change our or others’ circumstances. Our God is an active God. Our God is on the march on our behalf.

 

Lent is our 40 day freedom march on our own behalf.

We can accompany Jesus and allow Him to show us some hard truths. It may be uncomfortable for us but it is necessary for us to rebuild our lives on more stable foundation. We can go on with a comfortable religion of showing up when we feel like it (I don’t just mean showing up at church but showing up to be made available to Jesus on a daily basis).

 

We don’t need to be slaves to the past- to oppressive memories and routines of behaviour that have limited us and kept us bound and unable to live in greater freedom as the children of God.

 

Lent is a time when we can take special time and effort to focus on our march with Jesus to Jerusalem. We can be especially attentive to what we see and hear Him doing in the Scriptures “for us and our salvation” and in our lives…for me and my salvation! But if I don’t take the time and make the effort it won’t happen. The march will go unmarched by me- the opportunity to learn some new truth and gain some new insight into how I can be freer and live more fully as a child of God will be lost!

 

Last week Lori Rogers spoke about Right Turn Investments and our new partnership together helping people with mental health issues and a history of incarceration start new lives. It is about restoring lives and changing situations- doing something so that people can get out of binding, enslaving behaviour, addictions and limiting circumstances. It is about doing something to help others.

 

What are you doing to help yourself? What are you doing to be free from the past. A slave mentality is rampant in our society and our province. People accept where they are because they have been placed there by family, politics, and geography, whatever. The stability of our history can also become an excuse for inertia, for acceptance of a life that God has not imposed on us.

 

The phantom had hardships and even physical disfiguration imposed on him by life’s circumstances but he chose to allow his soul to be disfigured.

 

The people of South Africa have lived through a disfiguring past but they have the choice of whether that will disfigure the soul and the future of the nation.

 

Children and adults caught in the web of slavery need to have the evil, disfiguring truth of slavery, faced and dealt with. Then they need help to re-enter life without allowing the past to scar and disfigure their future.

 

You and I have has some hard things happen to us in life. We have all experienced loss- even the little children who are now outside in Sunday School. We do not succeed in life because we have not suffered loss- we succeed in life if we continue to embrace life and love and God, despite the losses we have suffered.

 

William Carey, a missionary in India during the first half of last century wrote: Attempt great things for God- expect great things from God. You may have noticed that on the banner from a church in Miriam’s film.

 

Jesus attempted great things for the Father- he attempted the work of our salvation and restoration. He was driven by the Holy Spirit into the dessert to be tempted and tested by the devil- to prepare Him fro His march on Jerusalem- His march to Good Friday.

 

Jesus expected great things from the Father- that He would not leave Him alone and He would accomplish all He had placed in Jesus’ heart. That despite how He would feel, God would not forsake Him on His march to accomplish the Father’s dream/purpose of liberating His children from death and eternal separation from His love.

 

And Jesus accomplished great things for us- he changed the course of human history. He joined heaven and earth. He overcame the separation between life and death and He fulfilled God’s promise to never destroy all flesh.

 

We need to attempt to live by faith in what God has done and in expectation of what God will do in our lives.

 

God gives us an opportunity to go on a freedom march this Lent. Will we go with Him or will we stay at home? That is all a matter of choice.

 

Will you attempt something great for God this Lent? Attempt to let God speak to you and show you something more about His love for you in Jesus? (That will take some of your time).

 

Will you expect something great from God this Lent? That He will actually show up and walk with you and show you what you ask of Him?

 

Will Lent be a time of freedom for you or will it be an acceptance of and a return to the same old, same old?

 

We need to know the liberating love of God for ourselves in order to be freed so that we can become liberating agents for others to know that same liberating freedom of God.

 

Let us pray.

 

Jesus, thank You for going on the Father’s freedom march for us and for our salvation. Thank You for leaving heaven to come to earth. For leaving Bethlehem to come to Jerusalem, for leaving life to enter death, and from expecting the Father to make good on His promise to raise You from death back to life with Him forever. Thank You for the liberating good news of the gospel. Show us what we need to do to walk with You in the path of freedom this Lent, and use us as instruments of Your liberating love, until all the world is free to be filled with Your glory. Amen.

 

 

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