Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the Fourth of July upon us, (wait – wasn’t it just Easter 2 weeks ago? But I digress . . . ) as I was driving home from vacation, a multitude of recent memories were passing through my thoughts. The most recent was the unexpected respect and awe that I witnessed in City Market, where a little girl over Memorial weekend tugged on the camo jacket of a veteran and she asked if he was a soldier. He replied, “yes, I was” and she immediately threw her arms around his waist to give him a hug! For all of you reading this who have served, are serving, or love one who has, you have a little girl’s great respect – and you have mine!
Over the past couple of years, I have had the great privilege of spending time with a number of our military heroes. There is one in particular though who invited me into his story as he recently took a trip to Washington, DC on one of our nation’s Honor Flights. He also had quite the stories to tell of his military service. I imagine all military members have their own stories to pass on. This little girl and this soldier, just ordinary people with very different perspectives on life and the world; both, understanding to varying degrees, the cost of freedom. What binds them together more than “soldiering” though, is the life giving freedom found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our world is filled with such as these, ordinary people who live in Christian freedom. A freedom that calls us to love our neighbor and to serve one another; freedom that urges us on to be the heart and hands of Jesus in our world. Ordinary, everyday people who donate to the Food Bank or deliver Meals on Wheels; who choose to help lead worship, whether as a reader, altar guild, musician or assisting minister on a Sunday morning or greet worshipers as they enter through the church doors, Jesus calls us all. We come to be fed and then we leave and enter into the mission field.
It is this freedom that finds us mowing, changing the marquee or preparing food for a sick or grieving family; decorating the fellowship hall or the sanctuary for Christmas and Easter or creating banners and stoles for Confirmands. It is also this freedom that has followers of Jesus serving as missionaries or on church councils and teaching Sunday School. It is also, how many ordinary people can so bravely serve in this country’s military services.
God’s grace and freedom from the bondage of sin through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice on the cross can find ordinary people doing amazing and extraordinary things. God uses us to bring His kingdom into this world, offering us a glimpse of freedom as yet unimaginable. Saint Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:8,”And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” With God on your side and Jesus as your Savior, what might you accomplish in your freedom?
I pray that you and those you love (including all those in your family who serve our nation) have a safe and blessed 4th of July. May God bless you in all that you do, and may God continue to bless us all as we are so VERY blessed to be living in this amazing land called America.
Pr. Paul <><