WEDNESDAY THE FOURTH OF JULY, 2018
Thank you, living God, for your undying love, ever at work for us and the whole world, made known in every age; for its triumphant victory in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and for its continuing presence with us, to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth through your Holy Spirit. Amen.
( Alan Gaunt )
Ye heavens, oh haste your dews to shed; ye clouds, rain gladness on our head;
thou earth, behold the time of grace and blossom forth in righteousness!
O living Sun, with joy break forth and pierce the gloomy clefts of earth;
behold, the mountains melt away like wax beneath thine ardent ray.
O life-dew of the churches, come and bid this arid desert bloom;
the sorrows of thy people see and take our human flesh on thee.
Refresh the parched and drooping mind, the broken limb in mercy bind;
us sinners from our guilt release and fill us with thy heavenly peace.
O wonder! Night no more is night. Comes then at last the longed-for light?
Ah yes, thou shinest, O true Sun in whom are God and man made one.
( Johann Campanus, circa 1500-1575 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
The fourth of July is Independence Day in the United States of America, remembering that moment in 1776 when the thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain.
Whether you are celebrating Independence Day or not, it is a good day to think about freedom and the paradox that often trails behind in freedom’s wake. Simply put, how does our freedom rely on the chains of others?
You can’t tell the story of the United States, without telling of the suffering of the native peoples who were dispossessed by those same colonists who laboured so diligently to free themselves from the British government, an ocean away. You cannot tell the story of the rise of American culture without remembering the chains of slavery. You cannot tell the story of economic freedom without remembering the dismal condition of workers before the rise of organised labour. It never ends. Now Americans are torn over immigration and the shame of their “zero tolerance” policy which separates children from parents at the border.
What about Christian freedom, then? It, too, is a paradox. In Martin Luther’s famous little pamphlet “The Freedom of a Christian,” Luther sets the paradox before us.
He writes, "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all."
In this he was reflecting on Saint Paul who, in "Galatians," chapter five, verses thirteen and fourteen, wrote:
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."
Even as Children of God we are subject to freedom’s paradox, for our spiritual liberation from sin and death cost the suffering and death of Jesus, and our continued spiritual freedom came and comes at the expense of many who were persecuted and killed simply for believing in him.
Freedom remains illusory until everyone shares equally the benefits of it. And people will never share equally the benefits of it, until and unless we are willing to be bound into service to the last and the least of God’s children.
... for peace in the world.
... for true freedom.
... for the people of the United States of America who celebrate their national day today and for the people of the United States of America who do not.
... for animals, wild and domestic, that are terrified by fireworks.
... victims of air pollution.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From a sermon on the birthday of Emperor Nicholas I, 1851, by Philaret of Moscow:
Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants. People who have the more allowed themselves to come into slavery to sins, passions, and defilements more often than others appear as zealots of external freedom, wanting to broaden the laws as much as possible. But such a man uses external freedom only to more severely burden himself with inner slavery. True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth are restrictive.
Grant, O God, that we may not rest until all the peoples of the earth share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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