Thursday, July 10, 2008

"The truth shall set you free"


John 8:21-32 ...If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

A picture of freedom opens up to us at St. James' ugliest spot. Just after we've agreed to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord," we're crossing that oily, littered gravel pit at the railroad tracks. Through a break in the trees we see, ahead and a little to the right, a plain church spire pointing to the peak of Kennesaw Mountain. Beyond that, it's a vast uncluttered sky, and, beyond that, a long unscheduled stretch of afternoon. We may be thinking of walking the dogs up that mountain, or lunching on the Square, or taking a nap; but for that moment, we're free. Of course, then we get in the car, we're waiting on the Polk Street light to change, and we're thinking that we'd better prepare for Monday morning, and we're remembering to stop by the hardware store on the way home . . . .

When the audience asks Jesus, "free from what?" Jesus answers that he means "free from sin." That bothered me as a teenager, because I knew the truth by heart -- see John 3:16 -- yet still did things I regretted. The truth wasn't doing its job! I settled for believing that knowing the truth set me free from the punishment for sin.

Now I appreciate the context. Jesus tells us that, "continuing in" his word, we are free to be disciples. Does that mean serving at the Extension? phoning my aged aunt? reading a spiritual text? preparing meals on wheels? Whatever it is, we are free to stop worrying about Monday and free to use Sunday afternoon, and all our days, to be his Body, his hands and feet, eyes and ears, on earth. We are free, as the prayer book says, "to love and serve the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart."

[This meditation on scripture was written for The Pilgrimage at St. James' Episcopal Church, Marietta GA, readings assigned for the day March 19, 2009. Other readings for the day: Psalms 119:97-120, Jer.10:11-24, Rom. 5:12-21]

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