Dear Friends, As we gather for Sanctuary worship on the second Sunday of Lent, I will be continuing our “Saving Grace” Lenten sermon series with “Salvation is Being Set Free.” Throughout this series, I have selected texts from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament that highlight one of the images of salvation found in scripture. The primary salvation event in the Old Testament is The Exodus — the story of the covenant people of God being set free from generations of slavery to the pharaohs in Egypt. Our text is from Exodus 2:23b-25, 3:7-8a. You can read the whole account in Chapters 1-15 in Exodus. The New Testament picks up this theme of salvation as being set free in setting out the meaning of the coming, life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians (which is sometimes called the “Christian Declaration of Independence”), he focuses on freedom. He begins in Galatians 5 with, “. . . for freedom Christ has set us free; don’t accept again a yoke of slavery . . .” In verses 13-14 he goes on to say, “You are called to be free, but don’t use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather serve one another humbly in love . . .” And then, a few verses later, Paul calls the Galatians — and calls us — to live by the Spirit. He says that when we do, our lives will bear certain fruit. He calls this fruitfulness “the fruit of the Spirit”. What he wants to emphasize is that we are set free not only from certain things, but also for certain things. This is an important distinction. So, what does freedom look like? What holds you captive? What captures your attention, your loyalties, your emotional life, and even a sense of your own free will? Are you held captive by fear? Bad habits? Destructive patterns? Addiction? Low self-esteem? Insecurities? The list can be long. Even negative thoughts can hold us captive. Rev. Linda McDermott, in her Lenten devotional, conveys a quote from the late Marcus Borg that speaks succinctly to this: “We all have a Pharaoh inside our heads.” Salvation is about being set free from all of that — and more — and our salvation is a process like the wilderness experience of the Hebrew people in Exodus. The book of Acts and Paul even speak of “being saved” (see Acts 2:47, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:2, 2 Corinthians 2:15, and 2 Corinthians 2:16). I look forward to exploring with you on Sunday what it means to be set free in Christ.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor