As the fireworks pierce the night sky with staccato bursts, we will again remember the birth of our nation. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence risked their lives for liberty. John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 which said in part:
“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means.”
Though our nation still endures chapters of “Gloom” there are still the “Rays of ravishing Light and Glory” that we hold dear. I remember the first time I traveled to Guatemala in my 20s and when the plane touched down in Houston on our return home, I had the urge to kiss the very ground of this nation.
But there is another kind of freedom that wasn’t won in battle or carved out upon parchment. I’m not sure what you call it. But it’s what enabled my mother, the first of 12 children in her family to leave the farm and go to college. It’s what empowered Rosa Parks to sit down on a seat in the bus not meant for her. It’s the freedom that a person discovers after the end of a painful break up to gather up the fragments of life and begin again.
The Christian faith names yet a third kind of freedom. The freedom described in the New Testament is not about governments or opportunities or nationality. Jesus says, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” And the letter to Galatians says, “For freedom Christ has set you free.” The scriptures name a spiritual freedom. This is the freedom I saw in a young teenage boy’s eyes who had fled sub-Saharan Africa to build a new life in Europe. There was a fire within him. This is the freedom the apostle Paul experienced from the chains of prison as he continued to reach out with love and a hope and rejoicing. It is freedom to be God’s person, to come to life, to know a deeper liberation all the way down to one’s soul.
Grace and Peace,