On the 4th. July, our American Cousins will be celebrating ‘Independence Day’, when they ceased to be a British Colony and became the ‘Land of the Free’. Ten days later, on Bastille Day, the French will be celebrating their Revolution, which established Equality, Fraternity and Liberty as the foundations of their future.

In his State of the Union Address in l94l, President Roosevelt set out four basic ‘freedoms’ for all people. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. After 74 years, there is still a long way to go to achieve that vision. We dare not let go this impossible dream.

Another dimension of freedom comes in Wesley’s great hymn “And can it be…..” Verse four starts “Long my imprisoned spirit lay ……”, then that ringing affirmation “My chains fell off and I was free, I arose went forth and followed thee”. I ask myself each time I sing, “Is this true — for me —— am I free or am I just mouthing this great man’s words? Am I free from my past? Am I still imprisoned by my misjudgements and stupidity?”

From the age of 8 to 14, nearly every Sunday I was taken to Matins and each time we said:

’Oh God, who art the author of peace and the lover of concord, in the knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom. Defend us thy humble servants assaults of our enemies, that we surely trusting in thy defence may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen’.

Whatever it is, freedom is a very delicate flower. There is some dispute over who first coined the phrase: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. We have to be vigilant to defend the fact that God loves us unconditionally, and it is not triggered by anything we have to do. This is from where our freedom springs and this is what opens the doors of our prison.


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