Freedom Isn't Free
Sun, July 6, 2014



            Popular history tells us that 238 years ago this past Friday, approximately 50 men from the 2nd Continental Congress gathered in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence - which gave rise to a movement that led to the beginning of the longest running experiment in democracy known to humankind in the adoption of our US Constitution some 11 years later on September 17, 1787

            Since that time, there have been 27 Amendments to the Constitution, addressing any number of human & civil rights and political concerns, there have been wars fought both on our native soil and abroad - largely in the name of freedom ... either our own, or that of an ally, and through it all, there has always been one central thread: people willing to sacrifice, sometimes up to and including their very lives, so that we or others might enjoy the freedoms we all too often take for granted.  …..

            Since 1965, an estimated 22 million people in some 42 countries have been visited by a touring group known as Up With People – young people who not only sing, but participate in community impact activities and assist volunteer organizations as a way to give back to the communities that host them.

            One song that I recall hearing from them early on in their existence is entitled “Freedom Isn’t Free,” and the opening lyrics are:


   Freedom isn’t free, Freedom isn’t free

   You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice

   For your liberty.  

            The rest of the song goes on to musically recount some of the sacrifices made by previous generations for freedom – with the price they paid, often times, being on the field of battle.  Because, as the song suggests: freedom isn’t free.  …..

            But over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about these lyrics in a somewhat different light – in the context of our senses, and what we sometimes have to go through to protect and preserve our senses so that we might continue to enjoy the beauty of God’s Creation around us.

            How many of you enjoy various herbs and spices to enhance both the taste and smell of the food you eat?

            How many of you draw some pleasure and comfort from the feel and textures of the clothes you wear, the sheets on your bed, or the covering on the seats in your car or on your favorite recliner at home?

            How many of you use some kind of device to assist you in your ability to hear better?

            And, how many of you wear glasses, contacts, or have had a cataract procedure or other eye surgery to help with your ability to see?

            It is this last area – dealing with the sense of sight, that has been somewhat preoccupying my thoughts in recent days.  A bit over 5 years ago, in May of 2009, when I realized something wasn’t quite right in my right eye, getting confirmation that I had a detached retina, and that with less than 24 hours notice I was scheduled to have surgery that would largely put me out of commission for a couple of weeks … for the briefest of moments I found myself thinking “I don’t have time for surgery right now!”  Our God Is Still Speaking Players theatre group at the San Luis Obispo United Church of Christ was just 10 days away from the opening of a production of Godspell that I was directing, Graduation Sunday was coming up, we were into the last couple of Sundays of the choir singing before taking a break for the summer, and Father’s Day was soon to be upon us … maybe I could put the surgery off for a while.  But when the Dr explained to me that addressing this situation as soon as possible increased the likelihood of a successful outcome – as in being able to SEE out of my right eye, there really was no decision to be made other than to turn over the finishing touches on the show to get it ready to open and the leading of worship for 3 Sundays to others, and have the surgery, which included a very tedious and restrictive recuperation regimen afterward that about made me go cRaZy … just ask Linda!

            …..  You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty. …..

            Ya’ know, one of the most prolific writers of what we know as the New Testament was the Apostle Paul.  In his letter to the church in Galatia, addressing the issue of unity in Christ, he wrote these words:

            There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,    for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).

But he also wrote the words that we heard just a few minutes ago from what we know as his first letter to the church in Corinth where he explains that freedom in the gospel means being a slave to Christ.  In other words, if we are to truly live as Christians, everything else … everything else, must come under the law of Christ.  …..  And what is that law?  Well, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he responded:

            You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all    your soul, and with all your mind … and your neighbor as         yourself (MT 22: 37, 39).

This is the way Jesus lived his life – loving God with his whole heart, soul and mind, and his neighbor as himself … and this is the way he invites us to live our lives as well.  Is it going to be easy?  Sometimes … but not always.  Will there be times when we are called to make sacrifices and stand up for what we believe in the face of resistance and even possibly ridicule?  Most definitely.  But remember – freedom … even when we’re talking about freedom in Christ, isn’t free.

    You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.  …..

            As Jesus neared the conclusion of his public ministry, staying true to the course of his radical message of love and justice, which challenged both the political and religious authorities of his day, Jewish and Roman alike, he almost certainly knew that, in all likelihood, his time was short – and I suspect he realized that his disciples would need something tangible to cling to and draw strength from when he could no longer be with them. 

            So at the end of a Passover meal, he took some bread and wine – 2 very common food items of the day … items that were a part of almost every meal in fact, and gave them a new and special meaning … a sacred and sacrificial meaning.

            On this 4th of July weekend, as we recall the sacrifices of the founders of our Nation, as well as the founders of our Faith, and as we “break bread” together with family and friends in celebration of the July 4th Holiday, may we draw the courage and strength we will need for the days ahead – never losing sight of the fact that …..


    Freedom isn’t free, freedom isn’t free

    You’ve got to pay a price, you’ve got to sacrifice

    For your liberty.

…..  And let us pray  …..