I'm struggling with my sermon for tomorrow. Yet another "prophetic" one instead of a comforting, send the people away feeling better about themselves sermon.
The whole of the gospel of Jesus Christ is summed up in his words to the woman bent over: "You are set free!" Just like last week's revelation that Jesus's Peace is not the peaceful rest we expect but, rather, "strife closed in the sod", bringing division, Jesus's Freedom is not even close to our political freedom, which the state giveth and can take away, or limit, closing some out and deciding who to let in. Jesus's Freedom is freedom from fear, releasing us to be as subversive, radical and scandalous as he was. His Freedom is the escape from Egypt. It is the rescue at the Red Sea.
Jesus's Freedom, given to us freely, costing us nothing but costing him his life, challenges us to expect our worship to leave us challenged to do what he did: set people free. Free from our cultural norms that say, "Hate your enemy. Fear those not like you. Shun them. Deport them. Close your borders." Jesus's Freedom challenges us to a religion that demands much of us: Release the captives, give sight to the blind, heal the lame, honor God's image in all people, love all people exactly as much as God has loved us - endlessly, giving up His life for us.
Tuesday I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. There will be a prayer vigil in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Fairfield County at the 1st Congregational Church in Stamford. This is not a political act. This is a gospel imperative. Jesus said, "You are set free." It behooves me to act like it. It behooves me to proclaim that freedom with my body and my actions. It behooves me to give thanks by standing up for those considered by some to be enemies.
Even if Islam were my enemy, it would still behoove me to act without fear but with the freedom bought for me by the blood of Jesus Christ, and with knowledge aforethought stand up in love with my supposed enemy. Since I do not consider Muslims, or Islam, to be my enemy, this is not a hard thing to do. The difficulty comes in how those who are my fellow Christians and friends will respond to my decision to follow my Lord into Stamford on Tuesday night.