Friday E-News | July 5, 2024

by Simon Mainwaring on July 05, 2024

Dear saints,

I first stepped foot on U.S. soil on July 4, 2001 to begin a nine-week stint as the summer chaplain of Camp DeWolfe on Long Island, N.Y. I can remember being picked up at LaGuardia Airport by the camp bus and being shuttled down the Long Island Expressway, or as locals called it during its protracted construction, "the big LIE." That summer was a wonderful blur of camp traditions (all new to me), trips into the city, and the beginning of what is now a 23-year chapter of life. 

The memory that remains most pristine of all was on that first night. The camp had arranged for the camp staff to go out on a boat on the Long Island Sound for the evening and into the night. We bobbed up and down in the water among a small fleet of fishing boats, many festooned by the warm glow of hanging lanterns, as fireworks lit up the sky as far as the eye could see. It was utterly magical—all of this to celebrate the gift of freedom. 

It is easy to take freedom for granted. On the boat that night were several staff members from Poland and Czechia, just about old enough to remember life under communist rule. For them, freedom was newly found and with the great European voices for democracy their respective countries had offered to the world—Lech Wałęsa and Václav Havel—still ringing in their ears, their lives knew well the sound that freedom makes when it is spoken of from a deep place of longing and fulfillment.

"For freedom Christ has set us free," is Paul's word to the nascent church in Galatia. Paul is insistent, at pains really, that those first followers of Christ would know the freedom their life was now being beckoned into, in Christ. The nature of a free life in Christ has of course been the subject of theological debate ever since. The answers we might encounter within the wide diversity of Christian thought on all sorts of matters of freedom is testament to the fact that the freedom Christ has set us free for is more a matter of yearning than certainty. 

As our nation celebrates freedom this July 4 weekend, perhaps our calling as followers of that Christ is to be among those who yearn more than we seek to be right; who choose to step forward with faith more than we attempt to prescribe the future with certitude. To be in Christ is to subject ourselves to the freedom of a mystery. It is also to discover in that mystery the ground of our hope, not bounded by nation or people or place, but within the love of God. 

I hope you add a beautiful memory of your own of light dancing in the night sky this weekend. As you see that light, I pray that you will hear the deep that calls to deep, drawing you further into that Kingdom of God where all people shall be free.


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