St Thomas Anglican Church, Howrah & St Barnabas Anglican Church, South Arm, Tasmania
Affirming lives, reflecting the hope we have in Jesus
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The Apostle Paul declared, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
PRAYER OF THE DAY
God of freedom, you have broken the tyranny of sin and sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that all people may know the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
Galatians 5: 1-15
Psalm 105: 1-9
John 8: 31-41
SERMON: “Freedom in Christ” (Part 4 in a series on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians)
Freedom is one of those things we don’t appreciate until we lose it. In the pandemic there has been a loss of freedom. Here in Tassie when the hardest restrictions came into force we missed the freedom of going to church, visiting loved ones in aged care and going to a restaurant. Even with the easing of restrictions we still cannot visit friends and family just over Bass Strait and even a visit to Adelaide means a two week quarantine which is effectively house arrest. When restrictions are lifted will ever again take our freedoms for granted?
Today’s readings remind us never to take for granted the freedoms that Jesus has given us. In John 8 Jesus gives the bad news that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” but also the good news that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The curse of sin affects the whole human race. It is about being shackled to sinful habits, being unaware of the mercy and love of God, being bogged down in bitterness and unforgiveness and being burdened with guilt and shame.
In Galatians 5 Paul speaks of the failure of the human attempts to deal with our sin which is to try and be good and how it just ends up with legalism which Paul describes as “a yoke of slavery.” Ironically when we try to please God by following his commands we tend to deflect our failures by being judgmental of the failures of others to live by God’s standards. Paul, who had been the most zealous of law-keeping Pharisees, knew this too well.
There is no more graphic picture of the freedom Christ gives than in the old English allegory of the Christian life, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, which John Bunyan wrote way back in 1678. Christian, the hero of the story, is fleeing the City of Destruction weighed down with a heavy burden tied to his back: … Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death."
Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him, and saluted him with, "Peace be to thee!" so the first said to him, "Thy sins be forgiven thee."
Jesus said “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free”. Jesus himself is the Truth and to know Jesus is to know that he is the Son of God, that he died to take away once and for all the guilt and shame of both your sin and your pitiful attempts to rectify it and that he rose to give you his Spirit and be with you forever.
BUT and this is the most important of all BUTS: Jesus sets us free for a purpose. The purpose is not to suit ourselves. Paul writes, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful human nature”. Paul writes the purpose of our freedom is to “serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
In Galatians 5: 6 Paul writes that “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”
1. Do I have faith that by dying on the cross Jesus cancelled my guilt, past, present and future, has united me with God and sets me free to confidently and daily deal with my sinful human nature?
2. Am I committed to a life of discipleship of Jesus, committing afresh each day to learning how to love God wholeheartedly and to love my neighbour as yourself?
FOR YOUR PRAYERS:
Today is World Tourism Day: Give thanks for the diversity of people and places in our world and the joy of encountering them. Confess when we have exploited people and places for economic gain without counting the cost
Pray for all involved in the tourist industry as they cope with the disruption caused by the pandemic
Pray for Year 12 students across Australia who have had a terrible year of disappointments and after their final exams will be confronted with the uncertainties of future. Pray for parents, friends and teachers seeking to support them.
Give thanks for the children and youth involved in the life our church. Pray for the growth of children’s and youth ministry under the leadership of our ne minister.
Ephesians 5:19 "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."
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