Sunday, July 5, 2015


   Some years ago, when attending a family reunion in Washington State (I was born and raised south of the border.) a cousin asked me why I was still living in Canada. "You don't have as many freedoms up there, do you?" he asked, assuming of course like most Americans, that they had rather a monopoly on 'freedom' and 'bravery'. I replied with a question of my own, "We aren't free to carry .357 magnums in our glove compartments but we're free to get sick. Which to you think is the most important freedom?" He mumbled something under his breath an turned away to seek a more compatible conversation.
            Talking about freedom is tricky. We all assume that we all mean the same thing: freedom for ourselves, the freedom to do what we want in  order to gain our dreams and goals. This last week was Canada Day and in churches across the land, on the Sundays before and after, many words were said about 'freedom' and many prayers of thanks were offered for this wonderful country in which we are so free.
            I couldn't share in most of them. In the first place, I don't give thanks to someone who doesn't deserve it; to think that God chose to place me in this position of wealth and power and chooses to place others in situations of pain, abuse, poverty and enslavement, negates all I know about a God of Love. I don't think that God made this piece of geography or its inhabitants any more blessed than another. What I will do is give thanks to God for the knowledge and awareness that I am loved and have the power and opportunity to DO something about the world and change my part it in.
           But, back to freedom. Yes, in Canada we are free, often in ways we can see are denied to others. But what do we usually mean by that word? More often than we admit we are thinking of the freedom to quire wealth, even if it is on the backs of others. We assume, still, that we are free to abuse the earth and to maintain our position of power without any change or real question.
          The truth is, we certainly are free, free to chose what-ever path we might. But, as 'Christians', the path we choose us supposed to be one that benefits the poor and the earth. That reality is rarely 'unpacked' from the pulpit, for those who pay the bills are of a different mind, choosing solidly the paths that keep them exactly where they are, or even, will improve their lot, materially. We are free to chose the path of Jesus of Nazareth. That call is always there for us, even if we rarely hear it and even more seldom see any evidence of its existence, but it is still there.
           It is so much easier to applaud 'freedom' in and of itself. To ask 'freedom for whom?' is just too embarrassing, even if that's what Jesus did.
          In this week of Canada Day up here and Independence Day down there, let's give a little room for the bigger picture, a chance to hear a question that urges us to choose just who or what we have in mind as the beneficiaries of the 'freedom' that we give thanks for and desire.
           "Thank you, God of Love, for the freedom your Word give us, to see the paths you offer us and to chose that which lead to life and love. When we abuse or ignore that freedom, help us to open our eyes and not complain when it is obvious that we have not used your gift of freedom for your purposes of life but instead, have empowered death.  Amen."