On freedom

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Tim Almquist draws our attention to a Christmas carol, “O Holy Night,” and asks us to listen carefully to the words, especially those in the third verse:

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

Tim draws our attention to the third line of that third verse that “touches on the institution of slavery with images of the Lord breaking the chains of our brother. It is a reminder of God’s love,” Tim writes, “and of our calling to respond to the very real needs and sufferings of our neighbor.” 

In his new book of poetry, a collection of meditations on how the Spirit of Christ teaches us to live, to love, and to lead, Jim Teeters offers these words on how to bring freedom into all of our relationships:

Bring spiritual nourishment
as you offer yourself freely.
Act with humility, and
never seek power over others.
Live this way.
You make Heaven visible.

When I give myself to others – when I give time and attention to a friend – I make Heaven visible. This is a call to love those who are close to me. In addition, Tim reminds us that our love for God is expressed through the breaking of chains, a “prophetic cry for justice” to us who have “forgotten the true priorities of Yahweh. Sometimes we must be shaken up . . . in order that our ways are realigned with those of God.”

In response to Tim’s reflection, I’m sitting with this query: Does my love for God move me to action in the world in order that those who suffer might be set free? In response to Jim’s poem, I’m sitting with this query: Does my life make Heaven visible?

And I pray as Jesus taught in Matthew 6:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

I hope you’ll join me.

Eric Muhr