Freedom is a privilege as well as a responsibility, or it is not freedom at all. One is free to speak but not necessarily to shout “fire” in a crowded room (unless of course, there is a fire). Each of us have freedoms that are a gift from God to be used and not abused or hoarded.
As Christians, we have been given freedom from sin and eternal death, the ultimate greatest freedom of all. We need to use our freedom in Christ for good in this world.
In recent weeks we have been discussing racial reconciliation and the need for things to change in our country with regards to equality for people of color and white people.
Since the founding days of this country oppression and discrimination have been a way of securing wealth and power at the expense of black, brown and indigenous people.
Some people are asking, “What can I do to make a difference?” “How can I change things?” The truth is, everyone can do something to make the principles of freedom a reality for all in this country.
If you have a freedom, share it with someone does not. It is the responsibility of freedom to pass it on out of the abundance of God’s grace, and not out of a sense of scarcity.
Your voice: Speak out for someone who is being discriminated against.
Your vote: Vote for policies and legislators that work for equality.
Your education: Teach someone who needs your knowledge and experience.
Your wealth: Share with people in poverty. (How much stuff do you need?)
Your heart: Say a word of apology to people you have hurt by exclusion.
The United Methodist Women have always been on the forefront of the fight for racial equity. For years they have promoted their groundbreaking “Charter for Racial Justice.” Their charter should be posted on the door of every church as our Declaration of Independence from the sin of racism.
There are many practical suggestions in this charter that we can take to heart and do with our hands. May we be free from attitudes and actions that oppress people. The absolute truth is this: until everyone is free, no one is truly free.
At the July 1 Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom Town Hall meeting (UMC.org), the Rev. Alfred Day (left), an Elder in the Eastern PA Annual Conference and the General Secretary of Archives and History prayed this prayer:
“Set us free, God of all people, everywhere, from every bond of prejudice and fear. (We honor) the steadfast courage of your servants like Harry Hosier, Richard Allen, Jarena Lee, Absalom Jones, and James Varrick. May we show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever and ever. Amen”*
May this be our prayer this week and always.
*From Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, Episcopal Church Publishing, 2010 (Adapted for United Methodist use by Rev. Fred Day.)