Growing in Resilience
Day 13, Read Isaiah 52
Reflection: Rise and Run, based on Isaiah 52:1-2, 7, 11-12 and Hebrews 12:1-3
I was struck by the similarities between Isaiah 52 and Hebrews 12:1-3. Running, rising, moving forward, freedom from sin and captivity, putting off the old/sinful and putting on the new/good, persevering, enduring, God going before and making the way, joy, sacrifice, strength, purpose, intentionality, salvation…
Isaiah 1-2, 7, 11-12
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! … How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”… Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
You are surrounded
With great and good companions
With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith
With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet
Rise and run
Lay aside every weight
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration
Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God
Lay them aside
Shake off the dust
Rise and run
Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you
Joy is your strength
Good News is your song
Rise and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing
Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life
Take it up and run
Sit down in the next life
Not this one
Rise and run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest, most beautiful step is yet to come
Opening Activity: Turn to your neighbors and show them what excited is by just using your face. Show them peace. Show them freedom. To show freedom we have to use our whole body and our voice. Is anyone free enough and brave enough to show us freedom?
Click Here for the sign for freedom in American Sign Language
Three Types of Freedom
1. Freedom = Freedom From
When we think about the founding of our country, we think about freedom from constraint. Freedom from: Oppression, Coercion, Tyranny, Harassment, Bullying, Prejudice, Abuse
2. Freedom = Freedom To
If we have Freedom From, that leads us to Freedom To. Freedom To: Worship, Vote, Speak, Work, Travel, Learn, Own things (including property/business), Raise a family according to my values, Rest and Relax. Freedom To is about access to opportunity- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
3. Freedom = Freedom For
living the kind of life I was made to live
becoming the person I was meant to be
my true self to come out
living for something bigger than just myself and what I want
the common good
living into the Kingdom of Heaven
This kind of freedom, Freedom For, is the freedom found in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only One who can provide this freedom. The Good News is that this freedom is available to all people, no matter if you have the first two freedoms or not.
The story of Pastora Yolanda in Cuba. She does not experience much of the first two freedoms, but she does experience Freedom For. The truth of Jesus has set her free.
The three United Methodist Missionaries being detained in the Phillippines have Freedom For, freedom in Christ. Nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” – John 8:31-33, NRSV
Most of the early followers of Jesus Jewish. Jesus himself was Jewish. Jesus is the Savior of the World and the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promises, prophesies, and covenants which were mostly about what it means to be truly free and what it means to truly live.
The Jewish believers respond, “What do you mean freedom? We’ve never been slaves to anyone.” I’m thinking, What?? Where were you in history class?
Slaves in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh
God led them to freedom and established them in a promised land. It’s remembered every year at the Passover celebration.
Later invaded and conquered, Babylonian Captivity
Jerusalem destroyed, the best and brightest taken into exile as slaves and allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem after 70 years
As their saying this to Jesus, they’re under Roman occupation and oppression
Maybe they meant they weren’t literally slaves bound to a master. Slavery was an everyday reality of the ancient world.
We can think the same thing, “I’m an American. I live in America. I’ve never been a slave to anyone.”
We are still suffering from the legacy of slavery in our country and the reality that there are modern-day slaves. Slavery has not been abolished.
Slavery is alive and well in Florida. We have many ports. There are kidnapping and human trafficking groups supplying slaves for labor (agricultural especially), personal and domestic care, and sexual exploitation.
Slavery still exists. It exists in the literal sense and in the sense that we experience it in things like fear.
Have you ever been held captive to your fear? Held captive to falsehood?
Have you ever been in the chains of peer pressure or prejudice or addition?
In the bondage of poverty, or disease including mental illness, lack of education, lack of opportunity?
Have you ever been treated like property rather than a human being?
Jesus is talking about slavery and Jesus is talking about freedom. It is Big Picture. Jesus speaks in layers. It is literal and it is deep and it is wide. We must be careful in saying, “I’ve never been a slave.”
Jesus said you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. If the truth will make us free, then what will enslave us?
Falsehood is slavery
Lies, Sin, Spin, Misinformation is slavery
If you have a false understanding of God, have you found freedom in God? If you have a false understanding of freedom have you found freedom?
False idea: Freedom from external constraints and freedom to do whatever I want will give me true freedom.
How many times have we been sold that? Real freedom is nobody being able to tell me what to do. “You’re not the boss of me. You’re not my mom.” (Freedom From)
How many times have we been sold the lie that true freedom is the ability to have anything I want and to do anything I want, with whoever I want, whenever I want, and there will be no consequences? Some have even labeled that success.
Is this freedom? Is this real? Is this true?
No, it’s false. It’s incomplete. It’s twisting freedom into something freedom was never meant to be. It is actually backward. Freedom in Christ (Freedom For) empowers us to help with all the other freeing that needs to happen in our world and in our lives (Freedom From and Freedom To). Freedom in Christ first.
If we think freedom is about self-interest and self-determination above all else it’s not freedom. How many times have we seen this lie blow up a life, or blow up a family, or blow up a business? We’re seeing it blow up our nation.
A false understanding of freedom isn’t freedom, it’s slavery. Let’s see what Jesus says.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:31-36, NRSV
True Freedom = Freedom For, Freedom in Christ
How are we freed?
Acknowledging we are slaves to sin and death and a whole bunch of other things and that we cannot save ourselves
There is a Savior! We are freed by saying, “I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus offers salvation to me. Jesus is my liberator. Jesus is my Deliverer. Jesus is my Lord. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Even though I may not know what I’m doing, even though I’m not perfect at it, Jesus help me. Save me.” I’m in need of saving. There is a Savior. I place my trust in the Savior.
Then we are more and more free as we continue in the words and ways of Jesus
We learn and live the truth
We follow Jesus in sharing this Good News so others may be freed. Freed from sin and oppression and injustice. We join Jesus in working for the common good.
This is freedom. It is offered to each and every one of us. It is offered to you. You will know the Truth and the Truth will make you free and the One to know is Jesus.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Isaiah 58:6 The Voice
What I want in a fast is this: to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice, to lighten the load of those heavily burdened, to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
Jesus, what you want is what you do
You, the Victorious One
You, the Key to every prison
You do not merely release the captives
You break the chains
You destroy the dungeons
Come again Mighty Savior!
Take our strongholds and give us freedom
Take our numbers and give us names
Take our sentences and give us life
Open the doors of our souls with deliverance
Break the walls of our relationships with grace
Release our voices in witness, thanksgiving, and praise
We, the once enslaved, now bearers of your liberation
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!
Ephesians 4:25, 29 NRSV
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another…. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
When we speak the truth about us we give others permission to do the same. – Ruth Graham
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. – Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
When Jesus came, He shocked, surprised and exposed the system. Are we not called to do the same? – Tim Green, Dean of Religion, Travecca Nazarene University
Let me lay a bit more truth on us: truth and love are not mutually exclusive. Truth isn’t the heavy-handed Papa here to lay down the discipline. Real truth sets free, truth invites, truth locks hands with grace, kisses love, and outlasts all of the fashionable Facebook rants and fear-baiting rhetoric, all of the splinter-spotting by the plank-in-the-eye crowd. – Sarah Bessey, In which I tell you the truth about telling the truth
Most of history has been content with cultural truth, denominational truth, national truth, scientific truth, rational truth, factual truth, personal truth, etc. These are all needed and helpful, but the job of true religion is to detach from them, use them in the largest possible synthesis, and find the Big Truth that is beyond any of these smaller tribal truths. Jesus’ metaphor for this Big Truth beyond our little truths was the “Reign of God” or the “Kingdom of God.” Or we might say “in the light of eternity” or “in the final analysis” or “in the eyes of God.” But these are all ways of moving away from tribal thinking and looking out at life from eyes other than and larger than our own. – Richard Rohr
For more information on the scripture translation and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.
1 Corinthians 13:5 NRSV
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
We keep to-do lists so we don’t forget
We check them twice
We carry them in our pockets
Holding on to the pain
Re-viewing the wrong
Point by point by point
Plotting revenge on ourselves and others
We carry them
They keep us cross
Wounded and bleeding
Divided and dying
You take our lists
Nailing them to your tree
Burying them in a blaze of love
So we may rise free
You keep no record of wrong
Instead you write our names on your palm
A life list on your lifeline
A love list by your scar
Ocean Surface Wave, photo by Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons, adapted
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 NLT
The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the LORD loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the LORD rescued you with such amazing power from your slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt.
You love me
not because I am mighty
not because of what I’ve achieved
or because of who I am
or who I know
or who knows me
You love me
because that is your way
that is you
You love me
Your love opens me up
raises me up
from every shadow which works to enslave me
every lesser love
How Great is your Love!
Fill me full
full of your love
so it splashes and spills
and pours and fills
and seeps and saves
our world awash and alive in your love