I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Certainly our celebrations were masked and social distanced, yet a small price to pay so that we can be together and share our love for each other! What freedom we have in our great nation, freedom we often take for granted. We exercised that freedom as we gathered today inside the sanctuary at Holy Faith for the first time since Covid-19. It was a small group, yet what joy to worship as God’s Word and our consciences dictate and to do so in person!
It is always important for us to remember – freedom is never free. In a Lutheran Hour Ministries devotion I read this morning, the message was clear. Just consider the cost paid by the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes sacked and looted, occupied by the enemy, or burned. Two of them lost their sons in the Army; one had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 died in the War from its hardship or bullets. They had learned that freedom is so much more important than security. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor for liberty. They paid the price and freedom was born.
The price to maintain freedom during our brief 244 years of independence has been high. During the Civil War, as the course of freedom would find greatest challenge in America, 360,222 northern lives would be lost, 40,000 of them African American soldiers. The sacrifice for racial equality continues even today. When Fascism threatened freedom, 405,000 American men and women would give their lives (and so many more lives in the racial cleansing that a deranged Hitler and his henchmen would bring upon the world). These are merely the lowlights! The price of freedom is truly beyond our comprehension!
You know where I’m going with this. We not only need safety from the conflicts and evil of our world, we need freedom from the conflict that is within. Paul in Romans 7, as he looks at his failed attempts to live as God would have him live, concludes, “Wretched man that I am! Who will save me…” Jesus does! What a sacrificial Savior we have! He paid for our freedom, not only for now but eternally, with His very life. Entering our sinful mess, He lived the perfect life. Taking our wrongs upon Himself, He dies the death we deserve. The price is paid and then the gift is given: freedom from guilt as we receive through faith complete forgiveness, freedom from anxiety as we have our Risen Savior with us always, freedom from fear that would hold back our sharing Him. Yes, He paid the price so that we receive His grace freely given. Jesus words in John 8 are true for us: “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” Share the grace! Pastor Craig