|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
|All Saints, Year C||November 3, 2019||All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019||Luke 6:20-31|
|Pentecost 20, Year C||October 27, 2019||Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C||2 Timothy 4:6-8|
|Pentecost 19, Year C||October 20, 2019||Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24||Luke 18:1-8|
|Pentecost 18, Year C||October 13, 2019||Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Pentecost 17, Year C – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||October 6, 2019||Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||2 Timothy 1:1-14,Luke 17:5-10|
|Season of Creation 5, Year C||September 29, 2019||Season of Creation 5, Year B||Proverbs 8:22-31, Ephesians 1:3-10, Luke 24:13-35|
|Season of Creation 4, Year C||September 22, 2019||Season of Creation, Year C, Week 4||Luke 16:19-31, Amos 8:4-8|
|Season of Creation 3, Year C||September 15, 2019||Season of Creation, Week 3, Year C||Deuteronomy 11:10-17, Luke 15:1-10|
|Season of Creation 2, Year C||September 8, 2019||Season of Creation, Week 2, Year C||Genesis 1:26-2:3, I Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 12:22-31|
|Season of Creation 1, Year C||September 1, 2019||Season of Creation 1, Year C||Genesis 1:1-25, Revelation 22:1-5, John 1:1-5, 14|
Pentecost 3, Year C
Sermon Date:June 30, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 16, Galatians 5:1,13-25, Luke 9:15-62
Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 3, Proper 8, Year C
True freedom is from God, the gift that God has freely given us through the liberating life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
True freedom cannot be earned.
True freedom cannot be bought.
True freedom cannot be won by any war, no matter how decisive the victory.
True freedom cannot be taken away by any tyrant or enemy.
True freedom is eternal, unbound by geographical or political boundaries, by human history, by time, or by space.
True freedom can never be ended, even by death.
Knowing that God has set us free from all that would take away our freedom is the most transforming, life changing knowledge that we can ever have in this lifetime.
And our knowledge of this freedom can transform this world if we live as if we believe this freedom in God is true and we let God set us free to love.
When we Christians witness to God’s freedom not only with our lips but in our lives, God’s kingdom begins to break out in unexpected and miraculous ways.
“Thy Kingdom Come,” that phrase that slides so easily from our lips as we pray, starts to shimmer into reality, to take on breath, flesh and blood, to become visible, touchable, and alive, first of all in and through us, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit will come down and set God’s people free.”
And the Spirit sets us free by equipping us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our dealings with one another.
The gifts of the Spirit visibly at work in our lives are the sure signs to the world of the love that Jesus showed to his disciples when he washed their feet, and told them that he was giving them a new commandment, “that you love one another as I have loved you.”
And when we love one another as God has loved us, even imperfectly, we find that all our desires grow ever more deeply into one desire, the desire to serve God by serving one another.
When we put the gifts of the Holy Spirit to work, we cut away the chains that bind us and hold us captive, so that we can help others to break out of captivity into the true freedom of God’s kingdom, present and real here on earth, though not yet complete.
These gifts of the Holy Spirit–God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control—are the tools we must put to work in our own lives if we expect to have the audacity, the energy, the power and the true freedom to love one another as God has loved us—that love being the most powerful way to get out of captivity and to reach the freedom that the world has never completely known but longs for ceaselessly.
But we forget to pick up this trustworthy tool of love and to and use it because the world offers us more attractive and more easily used instruments that promise freedom, but in the end keep us in prisons of the false freedoms of our own making.
Now those of us who come to church on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, pray the Litany of Penitence, which provides a handy list of useless tools that we are constantly tempted to put to work in our lives to break into a fake freedom that in the end only shrinks our hearts and tightens the chains that hold us captive.
Probably the most attractive and seemingly powerful one of these tools, the one we all have bought into at one point or another, is self indulgence, a disordered love for ourselves that the Ash Wednesday prayer describes as “our self-indulgent appetites and ways, our exploitation of other people, our anger at our own frustration, our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves, and our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts.”
Countless books have been written to help us identify disordered loves and to offer detailed suggestions about how to get our self-indulgent ways under control. Some of these books might come under the category of self-help books.
But there’s really only one way to free ourselves to love as God loved us, and in doing so, to live into the hope that God has for each one of us to do the particular things that God calls us to do for the liberation of this earth for God’s reign of love.
The way to free ourselves to love is to claim one thing– the true freedom of knowing that God is our Lord, and our good above all other, as the psalmist says.
In Psalm 16, the psalmist helpfully describes the true freedom that comes from knowing and living as if God really is our Lord.
When God is our portion and our cup, we will never go hungry.
When we accept God’s gifts to us, we dwell in God. Even if we have no place to lay our heads on this earth, we are at home in God and cared for by God.
When we bless the Lord, who gives us counsel, we come to know God’s wisdom, because God teaches our hearts, so that we are no longer are held captive by or distressed by the erratic and unpredictable tyranny of human wisdom that is uninformed by God’s love.
When people betray us and those tools of anger and revenge seem to be the only way out of our prisons of resentment and distress, remembering that the Lord is always with us will keep us from falling on our own swords as we try to take out our enemies.
Therefore, the psalmist says that even in the worries and sorrows of this life, “my heart, therefore is glad, and my spirit rejoices; and my body rests in hope.”
Even when death comes, God will not abandon us to the grave. This is the gift that Jesus freely makes available to us through his own death and resurrection. Because Jesus loved us to the end and beyond, we know that the path of life will pass through many graves and gates of death but that our destination is eternal life in God’s love—that is, true freedom, both now, and in the world to come.
The psalmist ends with this hope, this prayer to the Lord who is the psalmist’s good above all other.
“You, Lord, will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures forever more.”
Jesus says to each one of us here today, “Follow me.”
And the way of Jesus is the path of life to our true freedom—the freedom that will at last liberate this world for love.