Yes, you are free from the bondage of sin. You are no longer enslaved to the false gods of materialism and accumulation. And that has everything to do with the future of the earth and the growing list of endangered species. Because of divine forgiveness and mercy, you are set free. Set free to take risks for the sake of the gospel. Set free to take risks for the sake of our beloved earth. Set free to take risks for the sake of the most vulnerable among us. Like the Israelites, in baptism you walk through water, from bondage to freedom! Your call is to bring others with you.
There’s no softening it or explaining it away, discipleship, carrying our cross, will ask of us, a lot of us, and as earthen vessels filled with the breath of God it will bend us, crack us, spoil us, but God our potter is ever creating us anew until we fully live into the kinship we share as members of the family of God. It’s a kinship that extends beyond our homes to the farthest corners of our cosmos. Relationally reshaped, reformed, resurrected we are made one in Christ.
This is our call story. That we have been freed from what burdens us, we are turned outward from our selves and our own failings and phobias and doubts to proclaim this healing, this transformation that we have experienced to the world. And in the face of whatever doubts or fears or disqualifications we or the world might throw out, God’s promise stands strong. God reaches out to us whenever, wherever we stand in those dark times, touches us, and promises to be with us. To give us the words. To never leave us.
We all struggle with shame wrongfully imposed on us by others...for who we are, what we look
like, who we love, our work, our lifestyle. We pick at the specks in each others eyes while the
logs of racism, wealth inequality, environmental degradation, and xenophobia remain firmly
lodged in place. Yet...our infinitely compassionate God hears our cries, receives our
brokenness, and provides us with something greater than we ever could have imagined.
You’re part of the movement now. The mantle is passed to you. So pray, march, sing. Swing low, sweet chariot. Swing low and pick up all who struggle to be loved and accepted. Swing low and pick up all hated by their families. Swing low and pick up immigrant children separated from their parents. Swing low and pick up those homeless or hopeless. And swing low and pick up even those gripped by fear and hate.
“Take a chill pill. Calm down. Relax.” Easier said than done. We seem hard-wired to freak out when anxiety or fear take over. It’s the “fight or flight” response, we’ve been told. Like animals reacting to threats to their safety, it’s natural for us to respond quickly, too. Calm is something we so fiercely desire, but often eludes us. Inner peace. The sense that everything is and will be okay. The assurance that God is with us. Elijah experiences this calm after the storm…the wild man in the gospel reading is restored to his right mind (what does that even mean?) What is this “holy chill?” And how might we be restored and made ready to on with our lives and our various callings?
There are many ways to meet an ideal spouse, if you can find one. Consider the story of someone who put out their list of 25 qualities for an ideal spouse and married the person three years later. Proverbs ends with a poem about the “ideal wife” and Jesus talks about greatness. What virtues motivate us?