Free at Last

11 Pentecost/Year C

August 25, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13: 10-17


Sequence hymn/Hymn before/after gospel reading today

The Hymnal 1982 - #8 Morning has broken

Morning has broken like the first morning,

blackbird has spoken like the first bird.

Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!

Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!


Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,

like the first dewfall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,

sprung in completeness where his feet pass.


Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning

born of the one light Eden saw play!

Praise with elation, praise every morning,

God's re-creation of the new day!


This hymn we just sang…makes me think of the woman in the gospel story today…who Jesus noticed, called her over to him, told her she was set free from her ailment, laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began praising God…

I could imagine this morning hymn, being sung by her, with exuberant praise in thanksgiving for her newfound freedom…and her gratitude for the gift of a new day…

And what it really calls my attention to…is how all of us, who are gathered together, could join in this song too…rejoicing with her…that she has been set free from whatever physical, emotional and spiritual bondage that has kept her from acknowledging, and claiming her own worth and dignity…for 18 long years…

But, I’m not sure that always happens…we have our own lives to worry about…we don’t always notice the others in our midst who are not in our circle of friends….or if we do notice them…we don’t feel the need to make it our business, to get to know them…all we might see…is that woman bent over…that woman who could not stand up straight…that woman who we have seen every week, for the last 18 years…It is easier for us to tell our own stories about her…and not acknowledge her, or ask to hear her story, in her own words…and we just let her be…she doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone…she’s just there…there’s nothing we need to do about her…

But, what happens when something does change for her…something good! Do we jump to conclusions and start sputtering out words of condemnation and ridicule like the leader of the synagogue today, when Jesus dared to heal her on the sabbath day…

Or do we choose to rejoice with her, that the love of God, through Jesus, his words and his touch, has brought healing and reconciliation, not only for her, but all of us…if only we were to acknowledge her worth and dignity and belovedness as part of God’s family… we would all be truly free…

What about in our own lives now…there are people among us, who have lost their health and freedom, and are often overlooked…

Do we choose to support those who through addiction, have lost their health and freedom, and rejoice with them, in their work of recovery?

Do we choose to support those whose declining health has put limits on their freedom to live as they once did, but still look to us for signs of hope and reasons to rejoice?

Do we chose to support those whose daily lives are marked with violence, and rejoice with them when they have been set free, and empowered  to live a life, in which they are valued and respected for who they are…

Do we choose to support those who are grieving the loss of their loved one, and rejoice with them, as they reclaim their freedom to love and live again…

Do we choose to listen to the stories of those who cry out for help, when they are being held hostage by a system that has taken away their freedom to love and care for their family and their children? Can we imagine a new way forward with them, helping them to be set free, to love and be loved…and will we rejoice with them when the day finally comes…

What a day of rejoicing it would be…if the most vulnerable people among us, could be set free…could be set free to wake up in the morning, like you and I, singing and rejoicing that a new day has come…a new re-creation…a new day to praise God…

What a day of rejoicing it would be, if all of us, could sing this song of freedom together…a song that has been placed in our hearts, by the love of God, made known to us, through the gift of Jesus Christ…the one who came to live among us, to teach us, to set us free…to love ourselves, to claim that freedom for ourselves, and to eagerly share this love with others…so that they too will be set free to love and be loved….

***What a day of rejoicing it would be, if today we would recommit ourselves to the continued work of racial healing and reconciliation…and look forward to rejoice together on that day when all of God’s people will finally be set free…

Free at last, free at last, I thank God I'm free at last.

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #230 Free at Last

Refrain: Free at last, free at last,

I thank God I'm free at last.

***As a part of Healing Day events happening nationwide today, We rang the church bells for 1 minute today at 11am (3pm eastern time zone) to join others in commemorating and remembering the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans who were brought to the Americas…and to recommit ourselves to the work of racial healing and reconciliation***

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska