Freedom Day! (20-07-2021)
He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ (Luke 4:15-21)
Yesterday was dubbed by many as ‘Freedom Day!’ But what were we actually being freed from? We are clearly not free from Covid-19, it is still very much in evidence as the number of cases of the virus continue to rise. What we appear to be free from is the laws governing what we can and cannot do in order to protect ourselves and others from catching the disease. We are no longer being told by the government what we have to do, instead we are being asked to use our own judgement, in line with guidance, as to what we should do. We are free to make up our own minds, free to wear a face covering or not, the responsibility has shifted to us.
We are extremely blessed to live in a country where we know great freedom. Freedom in our worship, freedom to express our opinions, freedom in what we wear, freedom to love whom we chose, freedom to express ourselves in different ways. There are many places around the world where people live without these freedoms, where their opinions and beliefs are dictated to them, where young minds are controlled or where education is only for some and not for all and where love is denied if it is not considered acceptable.
In this country we are not used to having our freedoms taken away from us, which is why some have found the restrictions imposed on us over the past year so difficult to live with. In other countries, living with restrictions is what they do all the time.
In Luke’s gospel we see Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah (chapter 61) and he states that he is the fulfilment of that scripture. He says that he came to set the oppressed free. When Jesus left earth in his human form he promised that he would be with us always through the Holy Spirit. It is now our task, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to continue the work that Isaiah talked about, for we need to be Jesus to those that we meet. Not only that we must do all we can to alleviate the suffering of others, those who are poor, imprisoned or oppressed, be that physically or spiritually. We may not feel that there is much we can do, or that the task is too large, however we can pray for situations that we know about, we can give to the foodbank collections in our villages and we can support organisations like Christian Aid or Tearfund, who are working around the world to alleviate suffering in the name of Christ.
As our freedoms are given back to us, let us not forget those who do not share the freedoms we have and continue to pray for the day when all will know a true Freedom Day!
We remember today Lord, those whose lives are oppressed, those who are poor and those who are imprisoned. We ask that you would show us ways in which we can help others to be free.