Grace and Peace to you from God Our Creator and from the Risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
There was a popular song from both my high school and college years by the R&B group En Vogue called “Free your Mind.” The lyrics in the chorus were “Free your Mind and the rest will follow.”
I wonder as people of faith, what would we do with that freedom if we knew we had access to it?
Some days it seems we are diving into life-giving waters, yet are only able to swim out as far as our chains allow.
Slavery is an ugly word.
To be enslaved strips us of our humanity and threatens to expose our weaknesses. Is this what those ancient people were so riled up about? The word slavery? Is this why even though they believed, why they questioned and protested at Jesus?
“We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, You will be set free?”
They were not practicing active listening.
They were not hearing the truth that they must remain open and vulnerable to the Word of God.
That they must allow God’s Word to reside and ruminate within themselves in order for their liberation to be born.
Liberation from the translations of what God’s Commandments had been for their ancestors; laws that had been repeatedly dipped and wrung out in waters, until those waters ran muddy and God’s Word were unreadable. These laws that limited:
who they could converse with
be in community with
how they treated one another
how they existed alongside those that did not reflect themselves
did not speak the same language
Or praised and acknowledge God like they assumed everyone ought.
Liberation from the freedom of being in bondage:
bondage to humanity’s limited understanding of God’s Word and the freedom to struggle with the truth of Jesus’s commandment-
that we must love one another as we know God loves us unconditionally.
It is hard to love one another unconditionally when we encounter people who are enslaved to the ideas of racism, classism, ageism and sexism.
It is hard to be in community with other Christians who say, “We are covered by the blood of the Lamb, so we are not slaves to anyone,” yet-we observe daily them turning a blind eye to those who are in poverty, those who are hungry
and those who are suffering.
They exclaim much to our horror, “We are in the land of the free, so those people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job!”
It is hard, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to exist with others when they are chained to unrealistic dreams
that things should not change and remain as they used to be,
because that existence is more comfortable,
than dealing with the blossoming way life changes the landscape.
They too, are chained and trapped in the shadows of the past unable to take that first step into the warmth and light of God or leap into the clear, cool, life sustaining waters of renewal and rebirth below.
It is hard when we can not even free ourselves with what is chained up within our very being and souls. Perhaps this is what troubles and affects those of the African descent community, those that mirror me.
Slavery is a hateful, hate-filled word.
Many of my fellow African Americans are locked in this continuous struggle.
And we are weary of acknowledging that yes:
we were robbed of our language
and our sense of self.
We’d rather say, “We are descendants of kings and queens, of the land of Nubia; we come from a great civilization of
and great power!
Right now in this moment we are not slaves.
What do you mean, we will be set free?”
Liberation came for our ancestors in singing out in a harsh darkness as they were chained in a strange, oppressive land: “Oh, freedom/Oh, freedom/ Oh, freedom over me/And before I be a slave/I’ll be buried in my grave/And go home to my Lord and be free.”
Liberation came for those ancient people who struggled with the presence and teachings of Jesus Christ, by allowing the Word of God to break the chains of that world, that was enslaving them:
to selfish desires and self-righteousness
instead of the righteousness of God
and what God freely was giving-
the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And that is the Good News for us, beloved.
As that old African spiritual resounds in our hearts and minds, the Good News is that we do not have to die for Freedom because Christ has set us free! Here and now! That has always been the Good News for everyone who could hear, for anyone who was living in an oppressive state, for anyone enslaved, for anyone misused- then and now.
We do not have to wait for death for salvation and redemption because Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord gave of Himself for us! For all of us and for all of Creation! Because of Jesus Christ emptying of Himself, because of His sacrifice,
(turn and point to Cross) God used this tool of torture and through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are marked with a liberating symbol on our hearts and minds and foreheads that we are freed through the living Word of God!
Through God’s Word, through the Good News of Jesus Christ we are liberated:
To love one another by simply passing the peace
Through living out our witness of being free through Jesus Christ whether we are volunteering to help others through their suffering and sorrow
Or by raising awareness by raising our voices,
As a footstep follower of Christ against injustice, whether we see it in our own community, in this city or in this nation that claims this is the land of the free,
We have the freedom because we are children of God to call out our brothers and sisters in Christ, when we see them not living out their calling,
because they are still chained.
Chained from being enslaved to what this world wants them to be-bound and in bondage to
and to indifference.
They too, confess to being believers in God so somewhere within their souls are the seeds of TRUTH to continue in God’s Word, to follow Jesus’s commandment to love everyone, all of Creation regardless of what this world attempts to ensnare us with:
That through diving into those life healing waters of Baptism, God’s Word has the power to dissolve those chains and sets us free.
Perhaps that is what the En Vogue song meant about, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.” Who or what are the rest? Did it mean that if we unchain our mind from our worries, misconceptions and doubts that we will be free to do wondrous things or view life with a clear view? If it only were that easy, right?
But the Good News my brothers and sisters in Christ is that we have Christ. We may struggle to follow Jesus Christ’s teachings and His Word but as long as Christ remains within us, as long as we continue to follow His path as His disciples, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.
Thanks Be To God.