by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
On this day of freedom and fireworks, fun and festivities, remembering and reflecting, I come back to the One who first introduced freedom.
To the One who was in the beginning.
To the One who is still to come.
To the One who first breathed life into the world.
To the One who first created us in holiness.
To the One who first freed the Israelites.
To the One who walked with the prophets and priests, kings and queens.
To the One who was born in a manger.
To the One who walked this earth with us.
To the One who knew pain and suffering.
To the One who healed and taught.
To the One who overcame death.
To the One who breathed fire and wind into the church.
To the One who commissioned disciples to spread the Gospel.
To the One who brings salvation for all.
This is a freedom which we are offered unconditionally. Wholly. Fully.
This is a freedom that compels us to remember our neighbors so that they too can know this love and grace.
I, for one, am all about the festivities that come with celebrating July 4th – and giving thanks for the people who had the foresight to create a just and democratic country which I call home.
Yet, I also know that living in this country and living as a Christian comes with deep responsibility. Responsibility to my neighbors, to my community, to my country, and to the world.
My freedom, then, becomes bound to the freedom of all people.
Jesus taught me this truth, too. Through his example he modeled how to live in community. How to reach out to the stranger and the foreigner. How to take in the refuge. How to clothe the naked and the poor. How to feed the hungry. How to heal the brokenhearted. How to welcome those who are different. How to speak out for justice. How to love unconditionally.
So this Fourth of July I will remember freedom. And most importantly, I’ll remember my neighbors. I’ll pray that they will know freedom too.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com