It will never be lawful simply to ‘be ourselves’ until ‘ourselves’ have become sons of God.
-C. S. Lewis, “The Sermon and the Lunch”
See you at the parade tomorrow?
‘Spose so. We’ve got a house to clean and a lawn to mow, but we’ll be there.
Yeah. We need to get our garden in soon, but it seems like the right thing to do.
Nine o’clock? Same place?
Yup. Corner of Lincoln and Kane.
May’s rite must go on. So we went to the parade today. Because we must remember.
My forbears were farmers. None of my near kin fought for physical freedom. No names or faces come to mind when bands and flags go by.
What if we don’t have an Uncle John who died in Vietnam or Cousin Jack who served in Iraq? What’s to remember then?
If we’re Christians, plenty.
Jon Bloom says that of all people believers are a “memorial” people. Only when we remember the gracious past can we forge free into our glorious future. With or without a parade, Christians remember the high cost of freedom.
So stand up, boys, when the flags go by. Clap your hands, or salute. We rise, guys, and remember.
Remember Freedom’s Cost
But God shows his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We don’t often make it to that third stanza of America, The Beautiful. But it’s a good one for memory. O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.
So guys, remember that real moms’ sons and real boys’ dads and real uncles and friends laid down their lives. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Hundreds of thousands gave their lives, if not to death, then precious time in their life’s prime, to preserve the freedom of the country they loved. All gave some, and some gave all.
We are not our own. We-our lives, our blessed hope and our freedom-were bought with a price.
Remember What Freedom’s From
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:6-7
We’d all would be free from tyranny. No taxation without representation and free to speak our minds and hold up signs. Free to roam about and buy what we want and work where we will. We’d all be free from oppressive government, though we might argue the line where protecting oppresses.
But for what do we want it? Freedom to follow my deceitful heart, wherever it might lead, is no real freedom. In fact, obeying my every desire- following my lusting eyes and boasting heart-is not freedom at all. It is bondage. Paul called it slavery to sin.
Freedom to “be myself,” is not what this day is about. At least not for the Christian. George Bernard Shaw offered a definition of hell, in his play Man and Superman, which was, “having to do what you want.” This, writes Fr. Stephan Muse, leads to total depravity, and it happens a little bit at a time.
We must remember that real freedom always means free from and free for.
Remember What Freedom’s For
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16
The Corinthians thought they had freedom all figured out. To them Paul wrote, though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant of all, that I might win more of them (1 Corinthians 9:19). That remarkable statement of freedom from and freedom for that led Martin Luther to write,
A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none, a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.
Our freedom is for love. Christ set us free to serve. Freedom that means only free to, as my boys and my niece said driving home today, do what you want to do. This is not freedom. Freedom that overcomes what the flesh would like, and does what love would do-this is true freedom.
Fr. Stephan Muse explains,
True freedom is gained by coming to love Christ more than we love our own pleasures, likes and dislikes-by encountering God, and by coming to love the world more than we desire to possess and use it and others for our own ends. By praying “Thy will be done on earth” instead of our own, we begin to be instilled with a willingness to offer ourselves for the life or the world. We discover that we no longer have to do what we want; we are free and willing to do whatever God…wills.
This morning from my same spot with our old friends, on the corner of Lincoln and Kane, I saw someone else. Someone from a former church. We didn’t always see eye to eye and I hadn’t we hadn’t spoken in a year at least. I saw her when the band played Mine Eyes Have Seen.
But I pretended my eyes had not. The band played on and my friend and I talked on. And I saw the estranged one when the unicycles and stilted clowns and all the scouts went past. But on I talked, pretending my eyes hadn’t seen. Free not to feel awkward. Free to ignore. Free.
But not really free.
Freedom After The Parade
So rise, boys, and remember the high price of freedom. Stand silent, salute. Honor our freedom fighters. Let’s don’t let this parade be just a frenzy for the living.
Count yourselves dead to sin. And alive in Christ to love.
You know where this is going. You know just where I went. When the last red fire truck rolled by, I ambled 30 feet to the right. There she was-collecting Crunch bar wrappers, corralling her kids, folding their chairs.
True freedom overcomes what the flesh would like, and does what love would do.
So I smiled at this estranged friend my eyes had seen. I stretched out a hand to help and asked her,
How have you been?
And that is what freedom is for.