Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sermon for the Feast of St. James
St. John’s Church – Moultrie, GA
July 25, 2010

For many people, poetry is one of those forms of communication that speaks on so many levels, and reaches the depths of one’s soul. It has taken me a long time to allow poetry to speak to me, and I must be honest in saying that it is still on a very elementary level. Some of the more obscure poetry still leaves me wondering what on earth the author was even attempting to say, and rings hollow with no meaning to me whatsoever. However, there are some great poets who possess such a command of language that they are able to evoke such great emotions even among those who would not admit that poetry speaks to them at all.

One such poet that I have become recently acquainted is the late Blessed John Keble. In 1827 a selection of poems and writings appeared anonymously under the title The Christian Year. Soon after its publication it was discovered that Keble was the author and was appointed to the Chair of Poetry in Oxford in 1831, a post which he held for a decade. One scholar proclaimed, The Christian Year was “…the most popular volume of verse in the nineteenth century.” Keble was also a leader of the Oxford Movement in England attempting to reinstate much of the High Church ritual and theology that was displaced from the Church of England in favor of more Low Church Protestantism.

The Christian Year contains poems especially suited for each Sunday of the Kalendar, and if you look at your bulletin insert, you will see that I have included the one for today, the Feast of St. James the Great. He does such a wonderful job summarizing the Gospel lesson we just heard that I could simply read the poem through and then sit down to allow those thoughts to sink in. However, I will offer a few thoughts after we hear the words of Blessed John Keble from The Christian Year:

Sit down and take thy fill of joy
At God's right hand, a bidden guest,
Drink of the cup that cannot cloy,
Eat of the bread that cannot waste.
O great Apostle! rightly now
Thou readest all thy Saviour meant,
What time His grave yet gentle brow
In sweet reproof on thee was bent.

"Seek ye to sit enthroned by me?
Alas! ye know not what ye ask,
The first in shame and agony,
The lowest in the meanest task -
This can ye be? and came ye drink
The cup that I in tears must steep,
Nor from the 'whelming waters shrink
That o'er Me roll so dark and deep?"

"We can--Thine are we, dearest Lord,
In glory and in agony,
To do and suffer all Thy word;
Only be Thou for ever nigh." -
"Then be it so--My cup receive,
And of My woes baptismal taste:
But for the crown, that angels weave
For those next Me in glory placed,

"I give it not by partial love;
But in My Father's book are writ
What names on earth shall lowliest prove,
That they in Heaven may highest sit."
Take up the lesson, O my heart;
Thou Lord of meekness, write it there,
Thine own meek self to me impart,
Thy lofty hope, thy lowly prayer.

If ever on the mount with Thee
I seem to soar in vision bright,
With thoughts of coming agony,
Stay Thou the too presumptuous flight:
Gently along the vale of tears
Lead me from Tabor's sunbright steep,
Let me not grudge a few short years
With thee t'ward Heaven to walk and weep:

Too happy, on my silent path,
If now and then allowed, with Thee
Watching some placid holy death,
Thy secret work of love to see;
But, oh! most happy, should Thy call,
Thy welcome call, at last be given -
"Come where thou long hast storeth thy all
Come see thy place prepared in Heaven."

This day we commemorate one of the Major Feasts of the Year – The Feast of St. James the Greater. When we speak of Jesus’ special affinity for three of his Apostles, Peter, James, and John, this is the James we speak of to distinguish him from James the Less, the one to whom authorship of the Epistle is given. James was certainly privy to some of the most intimate aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry, and was present at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. He is also brother of John, the sons of Zebedee and the two have been called the Sons of Thunder.

On this his Feast day, we read of his martyrdom in our Lesson for the Epistle, and his rebuke in the Gospel lesson. Not exactly texts of a glorious nature to remember one of our Lord’s Apostles. However, I think the glory comes in our remembrance of how Jesus handled this somewhat vain request for seats of glory, and the record of James’ ultimate receipt of that place of honor.

As we heard from our Gospel, James and John’s mother approaches Jesus, and asks that her two sons might sit on His right hand and left in His kingdom. The scene shifts away from the mother’s request, and then to the disciples themselves when he inquires of them whether or not they can actually drink the cup that Jesus is about to drink. Are they going to be able to partake of that cup that Jesus must steep with his tears? He asks them the question, and they reply that they will be able to do just this. They say that they are able to drink deep of that chalice, “in glory and in agony, to do and suffer all thy Word.”

St. Peter makes almost a similar declaration when he says that he fears nothing, not even death itself, and will meet his death if necessary in service to his Lord. Jesus replies to him and declares that the cock will not even crow before he will deny three times that he even knows Jesus.

And so, after James and John’s declaration that they could in fact share our Lord’s cup, he tells them that they have answered correctly, and they would in fact drink of that same precious chalice. If I were to guess, I would think they might have felt pretty good about their mother’s request, but Jesus continues to speak and tells them that their request fell out of His hands, and that he could not grant them seats on His right and left, but that only his Father could do so.

We have no idea what must have been running through these two disciple’s minds, but I’m sure they had no idea what they were in for. They have just been told that they were going to be baptized with the baptism that Jesus was baptized with. As we heard in the Epistle lesson from Romans two weeks ago, here is what James and John’s request just bought them, “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

Of course, they didn’t have Paul’s fleshed out theology to fall back upon, so I’m sure they had no idea what being baptized into his baptism meant. We on the other hand do know what it means.

It means that accepting Jesus’ baptism, and his name, Christian, we must begin to look different, act different, talk different, live different. I’ve heard it said that the worst thing anyone could ever say to a Christian is that we don’t look any different than the world around us. What a tragedy if someone ever said that of us. Unfortunately, there are times that is a true statement, and we must constantly strive to never hear those words again.

I knew someone who died not long ago who had someone come up to him before his death and say, “I want what you’ve got!” In earthly terms, I believe that might just be the equivalent of “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” To have someone recognize a newness and amendment of life, that we are different people and why would be the greatest compliment we could ever be paid. And the true beauty of that recognition would be the ultimate knowledge that our seats are procured at our Lord’s right and left hand. Those seats came with a price and they still do. They required our Lord’s death on the cross, and they continue to require our death to sin. They came on the shoulders of one who bore them with all humility, and we are bidden to show that same humility to others. Jesus’ words at the end of our lesson declare that he came to not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many. That is our calling as well – to minister to those around us, the stranger in our midst, and our closest loved ones. To accept a place of lowliness and meekness and humility so that when we receive that final invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb the master of household will come to us and say come up higher and receive the seat of honor and glory that has been prepared just for you.

But oh, most happy, should Thy call,
thy welcome call at last be given –
“Come where thou long hast storeth thy all
Come see thy place prepared in Heaven.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity
St. John’s Church – Moultrie, GA
July 18, 2010

We come this morning to Mark’s account of the feeding of the 4,000. This is a much shorter episode than the feeding of the 5,000 that occurs earlier in Jesus’ ministry. There are differences between the two stories, most notably the fact that all four Gospel writers offer their version of the feeding of the 5,000, whereas this story is only found in Matthew and Mark. As we looked at the Gospels in our Adult Education classes last Advent, this is certainly one of those instances where Biblical scholars help solidify their argument that Mark was most likely the first written of the Gospels, and at least in this case, Matthew had a copy of Mark’s Gospel because his account of this miracle is very similar to the one we just heard. In any case, I believe it is quite clear that there were in fact two miraculous feedings, and our prayer this morning is that we may we be fed with these words, as those early followers of Jesus were literally fed with bread given to them by the Bread of Life.

As we have seen in so many other parts of the Gospels that whenever and wherever Jesus teaches, the crowds seem to flock to him. It says specifically, that the “multitude was very great.” It is must have been an amazing thing to behold, the words of God being spoken by the Word made flesh, and thousands come to hear. No doubt there were probably a sizeable number of the large crowd who were merely there to see if something miraculous might happen, or out of shear curiosity. After all, Jesus had just feed another large group of followers not too long ago.

Whether those in the crowd were true disciples, or curious by-standers, it says that Jesus looked on the crowds, and felt compassion for them because they had nothing to eat. The word that is used here to denote compassion is most peculiar, and in the New Testament, it is only used by Jesus to describe his own emotion, or in parable form to speak of Christ-like compassion, ie, the Samaritan, the Father of the Prodigal Son. The noun form of this word is even more intriguing in that it is the word to describe one’s inmost body parts, one’s bowels if you will. Today, we might translate this word as the pit of our stomach. Whenever we are moved with pity, emotion, grief, anger, we sense it in our innermost being. The ancient world would have seen this as the seat of one’s emotions of love, sympathy, and mercy. Jesus isn’t simply expressing a casual sense of empathy, he is feeling something much deeper, and at his very core. In that same manner, Jesus feels that same compassion for the crowds when he sees that they have been deceived and led astray by the rulers and teachers in the synagogues, when he compares them to sheep without a shepherd, and tells his disciples that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore to Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” I think we should note here that these words from Jesus are recorded in St. Matthew’s Gospel before either the feeding of the 5,000 or the 4,000. I find this fact interesting because of the state in which we find the disciples. Jesus has told them that there are souls out there that are longing to be fed, and he is feeding them, both with his words, his Living Bread, and when 5,000 were assembled, with literal bread as well.

Our text says that Jesus called his disciples unto him, and says to them, we have to feed all of these people, because if we do not, they will starve on their way home, they’ve been out here three days with me. I think Mark is ever so carefully weaving intricate threads together and helping put together some of the pieces of the puzzle as he records the words of the disciples, “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? There are places in Scripture that confirm for me the Divine Inspiration of Holy Writ, and this is one of those instances.

What is the link between the wilderness and bread?

We hear these words on the First Sunday in Lent as we prepare ourselves again for the annual pilgrimage toward Easter.

Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The people had been feeding upon the words that had been proceeding from the mouth of God. Now it was time for them to receive physical nourishment as well. There are times when I read this story and it still amazes me that none of the disciples said to Jesus, Master, do you really need bread; can’t you just speak the word only and it will be done unto you? Or even more appropriately, Master, here are a few loaves, we saw what you did with them the last time, and we are certain you can do it again.

Why don’t they say that? They’d just witnessed it for themselves.

I think you probably know where I’m going here. I believe that none of them said any of those above statements because the disciples are just like us. We see those places where God has blessed us, nourished us, provided for us when we thought the situation was hopeless. We thank Him for what He has done, and yet when we confront the exact same situation again, we fall back into that dangerous game of self-reliance and think we can do it on our own.

Thanks be to God that the people in the Bible were never presented like supermen, who always seemed to have life licked, the wind was always at their back, the sun was always shining on their faces, and never seemed to have a care in the world. If they had been presented in that fashion, I don’t think I would have any hope because that certainly isn’t the world I experience.

No, the Bible presents Jesus’ followers as real human beings. People with problems, with issues, with struggles, with temptations, just like you and me. The part that is most comforting is the witness of the Apostles even after they gave up everything to follow Jesus. Their humanity didn’t cease. They didn’t miraculously stop sinning. They didn’t morph into something unrealistic.

They were simply transformed over the course of their lives into people who lived with a new purpose. As recorded in the Book of Acts, these simple folk were the ones who were turning the world upside down.

That is what we are called to do as well. We too are given the opportunity to follow in the first Apostles footsteps and turn the world upside down. The miraculous is all around us. When we prepare to come to this altar, we fully believe that another miracle is taking place in our midst. Jesus comes to be truly present, truly here in the breaking of His Body and Blood. As St. Paul declares, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” That one verse is a miracle of its own right. Why do I say that? In one short line, all of time is encapsulated in one event. Every time we eat of Christ’s Body and Bread in the present, we represent his death in the past, looking forward to His coming in glory in the future. Past, Present, Future all intersect on our Lord’s Altar in the Person of His Son. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” as proclaimed in the Letter to the Hebrews.

May we continue to receive the grace to boldly proclaim that message, and let us come to be fed by our Lord again this morning in both Word and Sacrament.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity
St. John’s – Moultrie, GA
July 11, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I used a quotation from Yoda from the Star Wars saga, where he told Anakin that he must “train himself to let go of everything he feared to lose.” In the first episode of the Star Wars series, young Anakin appears before the Jedi counsel to determine his fate to become a Jedi himself. He was facing a series of tests and questions, and at one point the counsel asks if he was afraid of losing his mother. In a most sarcastic tone, he responds and asks what difference that makes. Master Yoda replies to him, Everything! “Fear is the path to the Dark Side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

I mention those lines because of our Gospel lesson from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus takes the Sixth Commandment and then elevates it to an even higher level. As you know the Sixth Commandment declares, “Thou shalt do no murder.” Jesus as he is teaching the crowds declares that even anger without a cause is liable to judgment.

There are multiple points that I think need to be examined here that begin to help us understand the depth of this passage.

First, of all, let us look at the phrase, angry without a cause. Anger is certainly an emotion that is natural, and when used properly can bring about positive results. After all, Jesus himself expressed anger when he made a whip of cords and drove the money changers out of the Temple. In that case, he certainly had anger and did in fact have a cause for his anger. The difference being, he did not direct his anger at any one person as an individual, but rather, he directed it at the abuses that were taking place in God’s house. We must remember though, the inherent dangers that unchecked anger can lead to. As Master Yoda told Anakin, the natural progression of pure anger is that it leads to hatred that stems from an all-encompassing state of fear.

As St. John declares in his first epistle, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

So, what is Jesus getting at here? I believe he wants us to understand the depth that lies behind the Ten Commandments. After all, he expands the teaching on the Seventh Commandment in the passage following ours that we heard this morning to include lust. He wants us to recognize the utter fallenness of our human condition and the depths we must go to arrest those feelings and temptations that plague us each and every day of our lives.

One of the tenets of the sixth commandment deals with the whole notion of life itself. In the beginning, God breathed life into Man and thus in addition to our being made in the image and likeness of God, we have a piece of God Himself within us – His very life-giving Spirit that causes all life to be and exist. Since it comes from God and is His gift to us, we have no right to take that very life away. God gives life, and He is the only one entitled to know when that life is destined to return to Him. When we commit murder, we take away that very thing that we have no right to tamper with at all. We are committing the same in Adam and Eve did – we are attempting to be like God.

What can we say about Jesus’ expansion of the sixth commandment to include anger? I believe it is because anger/hatred is a direct affront to charity. I’ve heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather apathy. Apathy in the sense that you could care less whether the person were alive or dead. In a spiritual sense you are committing the moral equivalent of wishing they never existed, thus killing/murdering the very Spirit of God that lies within. It then leads to the inability to see Christ in our neighbour and when that happens the highest of all Christian virtues, charity, becomes impossible.

That is why Jesus commands us to get our thoughts in order because these very thoughts lead to the very actions that the Ten Commandments explicitly condemn. Look at how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He progressed from the simple/the material to the more complex and spiritual. If we do not keep the simple in check it will inevitably lead to the far greater sin against charity itself. No, I certainly don’t think I will ever have to visit anyone here in prison for actually committing capital murder, but I’m absolutely certain that I will at some time hear a confession in which one has fostered wrath and anger toward a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and that repentance, forgiveness, and absolution is the only thing that will ultimately heal our soul.

Just as Yoda explains to young Anakin that there is a progression from fear, to anger, to hate, and then to suffering, Jesus declares that we must arrest our feelings and actions at the very beginning before they lead us down the path toward the Dark Side, to borrow from Star Wars again.

Our prayer and petition to God must come in the form of asking for His help in turning and forming our thoughts, our feelings, our wills, our desires toward Him, so that we then eliminate those areas where we are destined to fall into sin. We must do so each and every day of our lives. St. Paul goes so far as to bid us to pray without ceasing. The enemy, declares St. Peter, is like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour. Just like an animal of prey, he is constantly looking for his next meal, his next victim. So too is Satan looking for a willing home in which to make his abode. May God give us the strength and the power to arrest those feelings of fear, of anger, of hate, so that we may not taste the suffering that the Enemy wishes for us to experience. Then, as our collect prays we may enjoy those good things that our Lord has for us to partake in, and obtain those very promises which exceed every expectation we could ever desire.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Sermon for Independence Day
St. John’s Church – Moultrie, GA
July 4, 2010

On this date, 234 years ago, a group of fifty-six brave men gathered together, and hammered out the words that many of us, either memorized as schoolchildren or had our parent’s teach us at an earlier age. They penned words that are forever ensconced in our very identity as a nation, and set into motion actions that would forever change Western history at the end of the eighteenth century. The world is a different place because these men believed that:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
The founders went on to list the grievances between the colonies and Mother England.

Why do I mention the words of the Declaration of Independence in this sermon? No, it isn’t simply because today is Independence Day, and I should simply preach a God and Country Sermon and leave it at that. I mention the words of the Declaration of Independence and corresponding words from our U.S. Constitution because they all contain a particular word that I think has begun to lost some of its meaning, and has simply coagulated into a somewhat amorphous term. I believe that the word Liberty has lost some of its punch, and I think we need to reclaim it, both in its function for us as American, but also for us as Christians.

The reason I believe we need to address this term is because of the question I’ve been mulling over for quite some time as I was working on this sermon. I asked myself if there was a difference between freedom and liberty.

In simply looking at dictionary definitions of the word, here is what I found:

Freedom is defined as:

1 : the quality or state of being free: as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another c: the quality or state of being exempt or released from something onerous

Liberty on the other hand is:

1 a: freedom from external (as governmental) restraint, compulsion, or interference in engaging in the pursuits or conduct of one's choice to the extent that they are lawful and not harmful to others b: enjoyment of the rights enjoyed by others in a society free of arbitrary or unreasonable limitation or interference
An online Bible Dictionary further defines liberty as:

The opposite of servitude or bondage, hence, applicable to captives or slaves set free from oppression (thus deror, Lev 25:10; Isa 61:1, etc.). Morally, the power which enslaves is sin (Jn 8:34), and liberty consists, not simply in external freedom, or in possession of the formal power of choice, but in deliverance from the darkening of the mind, the tyranny of sinful lusts and the enthrallment of the will, induced by a morally corrupt state. In a positive respect, it consists in the possession of holiness, with the will and ability to do what is right and good. Such liberty is possible only in a renewed condition of soul, and cannot exist apart from godliness. Even under the Old Testament godly men could boast of a measure of such liberty (Ps 119:45, rachabh, "room," "breadth"), but it is the gospel of Christ which bestows it in its fullness, in giving a full and clear knowledge of God, discovering the way of forgiveness, supplying the highest motives to holiness and giving the Holy Spirit to destroy the power of sin and to quicken to righteousness. In implanting a new life in the soul, the gospel lifts the believer out of the sphere of external law, and gives him a sense of freedom in his new filial relation to God. Hence, the New Testament expressions about "the glorious liberty" of God's children (Rom 8:21 the King James Version; compare Gal 2:4; 5:13, etc.), about liberty as resulting from the possession of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17), about "the perfect law of liberty" (Jas 1:25). The instrument through which this liberty is imparted is "the truth" (Jn 8:32). Christians are earnestly warned not to presume upon, or abuse their liberty in Christ (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet 2:16). James Orr
I stumbled across an essay by a Dr. Marlene McMillan, and I must agree with what she has to say on that question. Let me share with you her words as she answers the question:

What is the Difference Between Freedom and Liberty?

Most people use the words liberty and freedom interchangeably. One of the most famous statements in the Declaration of Independence is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Is there a reason why our founding fathers chose the word “liberty” instead of “freedom”?

Defining your words correctly is one of the foundational skills necessary in order to be able to think and reason at a high level. Actually, liberty and freedom are very different words. Which one you pursue and promote in your life tells much about your character and about your future.

Liberty is the freedom from restraint that allows you to exercise your God-given rights so that you might assume the responsibility necessary to attain your destiny. Liberty is personal, family, governmental, economic and religious. Liberty may be defined as the opportunity to make a choice to assume responsibility and accept the consequences.

Freedom, at best, is the license to do what you want as long as you do not hurt others. At worst, freedom is license to do what you want without considering the rights of others. Freedom without good character will result in anarchy or tyranny.

Responsibility is inherent to the meaning of liberty. For either individuals or nations to live in liberty, they must exercise self-government. When the citizens of a nation start assuming less responsibility for their individual actions, then more external controls are necessary. The people may cry for freedom, but what they will get is more rules and regulations.

Self-government, properly defined, does not mean that self is in control. It means that the person voluntarily submits his will to God’s will. It means a person chooses to restrain or direct himself instead of needing others to rule over him. It means that the person chooses to “own” his actions and take responsibility for them instead of seeking others to blame.

We must assume responsibility for our actions, our health, our education, and our provision. Needs in these areas can be met privately. They are not civil government’s business. James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, said, “We have staked the future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it – we have staked the future of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Colonial pastor Robert Winthrop said, “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.”

Liberty is fragile and must be valued to be preserved; but as long as people think they are free, they will not make an effort to preserve their liberty. Take a moment to reflect on the level of liberty we have today compared to the liberty that our founding fathers gave to us with such great cost. Do you see people giving up control of their own destiny in order to receive a handout from civil government? Do you see people today giving up a portion of their liberty in order to gain perceived protection from the

Benjamin Franklin said, “He who would exchange essential liberty for temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety.” Barring a revival of self-government in our land, we are facing the greatest loss of essential liberty ever seen in the history of mankind….Liberty is the result of thinking for ourselves and exercising our responsibilities. It is not the result of looking to civil government as the source. As we change the way we think, we will regain an understanding of the true source of liberty. “People who live in liberty think differently than people who live in bondage.”™

So, what do you think, is there a difference between liberty and freedom? Whether or not you answer that question in the affirmative or negative, I think the more important question lies in how we see freedom and liberty from a Christian perspective. As our Lord began his ministry in that Synagogue in Nazareth and he took upon himself the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord,”, he wants us to recognize that our freedom our liberty comes with the expectation that we are only free in the sense that our freedom comes with an incredible cost, and that as we have always heard, freedom is never free. It cost our Lord his life, but it was a price that God paid so that we might in fact be free in the ultimate sense of the word. And, our true hope lies in the fact that our liberties and freedom have been procured from the God of gods, and Lord of lords, who we worship, adore, and serve this day, and forevermore.