Freedom has become an important topic during the weeks and months of pandemic shutdown. Our freedom to assemble and freedom to worship have been restricted. Businesses that have been closed are experiencing a loss of economic freedom. We are keenly aware of the various ways we have lost our freedom and we are more in need of the true freedom offered by Christ than ever.
What is true freedom? To a two-year-old, freedom is simple: “I can do it myself!” At eight years old, freedom is a little more complicated, but not much: “You’re not the boss of me!” To a teenager, freedom becomes a developmental stage of maturity as we rebel against parents and rules of all kinds in an effort to define ourselves as individuals. As mature adults, we begin to realize that true freedom is more nuanced and harder to achieve.
True freedom is much more than freedom of choice or action. True freedom comes when we are able to fulfill our God-given purpose and calling. True freedom is experienced in being all that we can be, and all that God hopes for us. True freedom comes in loving relationship, with God and with one another.
Freedom in Christ
For months now I have been teaching a series of classes titled, “Freedom in Christ”. I started the series before the pandemic, but we need the freedom that Christ offers even more during these anxious and contentious times, so I want to look at what kind of freedom Christ offers, and how that might help us during this pandemic.
Knowing the Presence of God
The Freedom in Christ series started by teaching Centering Prayer. This is a deceptively simple practice that takes minutes to learn and then continues to unfold in depth and beauty for the rest of our lives. There is a freedom and peace we experience when we prayerfully consent to the presence and action of God within through Centering Prayer that seems particularly timely during this pandemic.
Letting Go of Resentment and Anger
The Freedom in Christ series continued by exploring forgiveness. We talked about what forgiveness really is and how the stories we tell about our lives can either free us or bind us in resentment and anger. Ultimately, the forgiveness series is about developing a practice of forgiving the little stuff so that it is easier to do the hard work of forgiving the big stuff, whether that means forgiving someone else or yourself. The changes and stresses of our lives in this pandemic provide many opportunities to practice forgiving.
Appreciating the Sacred
The next class in the Freedom in Christ series will teach the Welcoming Prayer. The goal of this practice is to take the peace and freedom experienced in Centering Prayer into the rest of your life. It is one thing to find peace during 20 minutes of silent contemplation, but we really need that peace when dealing with the frustrations and struggles of the rest of our day. The Welcoming Prayer helps us see and appreciate the sacred even in the midst of a pandemic by freeing us from fears and compulsions.
A Spiritual Path to Freedom
Jesus offers us a spiritual path that leads to peace and freedom. Right now, while we are locked in by a pandemic, is the perfect time to explore this path to peace and freedom. Join us here at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Shoreline, Washington, for our online discussions and classes, our worship, and our daily morning prayer and compline offerings. Together, we are learning to follow Jesus by living these practices that offer Freedom in Christ.