I wonder if you’re as perplexed about human nature as I am today? You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In early August the number of infections in Utah reached twice as many as last summer when there was no vaccine. It’s so strange: can’t make that horse drink; or keep an addict from using; or make someone roll up their sleeve for this vaccine that will save lives, and save the life of our neighbor. In Utah, we’re free to make our own public health mistakes even if they put our neighbor’s life in danger.Some of our fellow citizens in Utah are even ready to take up weapons on that very principle.
Into this world, God sent His Son who says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world, is my flesh.”This is God’s astounding answer to human nature.This is what God does with absolute freedom.God has no need to enter time, or enter history, or become human.God has absolute freedom to amuse God’s self any way that God might wish.Imagine! What would you do if you had such freedom as God has!And yet, God who lives in eternal absolute freedom chooses to become human in Christ, and then,again in absolute freedom now as a human being,able to turn water into wine to keep the wedding party going, able to calm the storms at sea, walk on the water itself, and heal the sick, God in Christ who can exercise the same absolute eternal freedom as ever chooses to embody love for the world, in self-sacrifice.
It appears to me that, from God’s point of view, freedom has a purpose.And the purpose of freedom itself, is practicing a love a life-long love that is rooted in compassion for suffering, kindness and generosity to the stranger, and sharing every blessing that God gives us.To me, this perfect exercise of freedom is what gives life to the world.Indeed it is the mission of the Body of Christ, the Church, in the world.
We believe we are fed by God’s love at Tabor’s round table and sent into the world to be the living bread of Christ’s own body for the life of the world. That’s our spiritual practice.Freedom has a purpose.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Hitler’s Germany.He freely gave his life as a double agent for the Resistance.In prison awaiting execution, Bonhoeffer wrote:
“Freedom from something experiences its fulfillment only in the freedom for something. Freedom solely for the sake of freedom, however, leads to anarchy.”
“Biblically, freedom means free for service to God and neighbor. Freedom for obedience to the commandments of God.”
“The question of individual freedoms . . . is a question of how far these freedoms are necessary and suitable in order to promote and assure the freedom of life according to God’s commandments. For freedom is not primarily an individual right, but a responsibility. Freedom is not primarily oriented toward the individual, but toward the neighbor.”
On August 5, IMC reported that its ICU was now at capacity with the vast majority being unvaccinated Covid patients .Nurses are servants and helpers.Like Christ, they show us what love looks like, every day they report for duty. I can’t begin to imagine what they are going through right now when the solution is widely available anytime, anywhere, to anyone. The bread of Christ in all its many forms and manifestations, the bread that gives life to the world, is what we as the Body of Christ are meant to share with the world.
So my question is this: What is the bread of life that we can share with the helpers? The nurses who are, I believe, being unjustly asked to bear the burden of human selfishness in Utah? What can we tangibly share? What can we share that’s as real and physical as bread with the nursing staff at IMC?
Mount Tabor has a direct connection with that nursing staff. His name is Jason Wyasket, a beloved and respected member of our congregation. Jason is a Lead Nurse, or Unit Supervisor, at IMC .He oversees the quality of care given by his fellow nurses, in the Unit. I believe he carries a tremendous weight on his shoulders . . . again. And we are his fellow travelers on the Way of Christ.What can we do to support him and the nurses at IMC? Prayer of course. But what tangible bread can we provide as well? Won’t you please pray about this? And let me know what ideas come to you? Maybe this could be our Service Project or Ministry Initiative for this Fall.
Bishop Jim Gonia of our Rocky Mountain Synod recently reminded us of the words of Martin Luther regarding “freedom in Christ.” He said:
“Martin Luther famously wrote in his treatise, Freedom of a Christian: ‘A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all’ . Advocating for the use of vaccinations and insisting on pandemic protocols in these uncertain times is not a question of freedom – it is a question of serving Christ by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.”
Let our freedom in Christ, be bread for the world. – Pr. David