Sermon preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia,Sunday June 30
2013The Reverend Alan Neale, “Freedom Furrows”
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free”.Next week we begin a program called “Sermon Review or better PreacherUnder Fire”… I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I am so relievedthat this program begins next Sunday and not today. Before ever questionsrose in your minds this morning about the Gospel, they rose first in the mindof this preacher – today we read some of the so-called “Hard Sayings of Jesus” (not quite the gentle Jesus of childish archetype), we read of disciplesas potential arsonists and mass murderers (not quite the harbingers andbringers of peace). But the program begins next week… Though sorely tempted to take on these theological twisters head-on, Ifound myself drawn to the clarion call of Paul to be free, free indeed. Thisrelatively new American has no embarrassment to reflect on this theme asthe celebration of freedom, July 4
, draws near. July 4
, at its best, is thecelebration of freedom hard won, freedom shared within community andbeyond and, sadly inevitably, the need to safeguard and protect freedom.Freedom! In today’s text, “For freedom Christ has set us free”, Paul definesthe provider, the place and the purpose of freedom.
The provider of freedom.
“Christ has set us free”. Yesterday in church Italked with two visitors; after a few minutes of conversation the man toldme that he is enjoying twenty years of healthy sobriety. Freedom fromaddiction and all its collateral damage. He spoke openly of the Lord, hishigher power, who had worked in him a miracle of freedom that he couldnot do himself. Christ is the provider of our true, authentic freedom; afreedom that has about it the mark of eternity, the mark of the Spirit. By hisdealings with all people, Christ displayed His profound and deep concern forthe freedom of all those with whom He came into contact – demoniacs werefreed from demons, lepers from social and religious alienation, foreignersfrom racism… all and many more set free as Jesus met them and talkedwith them and endowed upon them freedom from bonds that weredestroying them and from attitudes that were defining them. And there’smore… by his birth, by his death, by His resurrection He cancelled foreverthe chains of guilt and even death itself.Christ the provider of freedom and…
The place of freedom
. “Christ has set us free”. Doubtless Paul has in mindthe individual but the individual in the place of community. Freedom entails