August 10, 2020
Freed in Christ to love and serve the neighbor.
We are living in uncertain and difficult times. Amid the pandemic of COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic of racism and xenophobia, our communities and world are ravaged by illness, death and injustice. Fear, grief, anger and strife are within and around us. We are tempted to turn inward in despair.
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther wrote a treatise titled The Freedom of a Christian. In it, he offered his most compelling summary of the Christian life: In Christ we are completely free and at the same time completely bound in love and service to our neighbors. For Christians such as you and me, this has been our Lutheran way of telling the Christian story for 500 years. At the heart of our Lutheran theological tradition, we find the antidote to our despair. In this treatise, Luther describes a “happy exchange” wherein Christ sets us free by taking upon himself humankind’s sin, pain and judgment, and in return giving us his liberating life. In that exchange, we are free from the clutches of sin, from the forces that try to tear us apart and from any condemnation. We are empowered in turn to use our freedom to serve our neighbors, whoever they may be.
This message remains timely when voices that marginalize certain people, or preach contempt, hatred and violence, dominate our public discourse. How do we hear and trust this word from God today, and continue to serve God’s life-giving work?
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, July 2020
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