It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
It’s another Sunday morning and just about my favorite time of the week. I say “just about” because there is something I love love love about pretty much every day of every week, so I can’t claim to favor one exclusively; I can’t help myself – life is good and I enjoy it so much!
But coming together in worship, showing up to inspire one another via the encouragement of presence, is always a deeply special experience.
The Heart of Memorial Day:
Today, right in the middle of this holiday weekend, I know that literally scores of Wake Forest Presbyterians are numbered among the crowds of people who clogged the roads between here and both the ocean and the mountains. But several hundred, nonetheless, will be gathering in the sanctuary and I hope and pray that the heart of Memorial Day will be on their minds.
Not, “The official beginning of the grilling season.” Not, “A three-day weekend.” And not, “The big kickoff to the summer.” But “Memorial Weekend,” a time when we specifically remember the sacrifice made by so many men and women to secure the freedom we enjoy to live together in peace, to worship… or even to skip church and sleep in, or to spend the holiday at the beach.
Considering the unequaled prize that liberty is, the impossible to overstate value and uniqueness of the rights we as Americans enjoy, and the incalculable cost of winning and maintaining such priceless freedoms, to my mind every church in this country should be full to overflowing with grateful people!
Think about the unequaled prize that liberty is, the impossible to overstate value and uniqueness of the rights we as Americans enjoy, and the incalculable cost of winning and maintaining such priceless freedoms! To my mind every church in this country should be full to overflowing with grateful people!
Seriously, there is no other place other than church that I could imagine being when I consider the phenomenal gift that is the life I enjoy from day to day.
If you really are grateful, then this weekend provides the perfect opportunity to express that gratitude, both to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to the God who is the author of every freedom we enjoy.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
I am suspicious that the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” was planted right there in the middle of the Garden of Eden exactly because God wanted us to taste the fruit. I harbor a very real inkling that God wanted us to explore the limits of free will and that – irony of ironies – God gave us (gives us) the free choice to either taste or reject the fruit that gave us free choice.
The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. The Lord God commanded the human, “Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees; but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day you eat from it, you will die!” – Genesis 2
You see I believe God wants it to be 100% our decision. That way the ultimate – and pivotal – decision to follow Jesus back into the Garden is completely authentic and something God can celebrate.
I’m rambling of course. My point this morning is that there is no freedom outside of Christ, there is no sacrifice unless we understand what is at stake, and there is no place other than worship where our understanding of both the cost and the beauty of liberty can be appropriately expressed.
So, thank you, God. And thank you to all those brave and generous souls who were willing to give everything so that we could enjoy this extravagant grace.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.