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Sermon Free at Last

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“Free at Last”

Sermon Prepared by Carl Schaefer

July 4th , 2010

For Trinity United Methodist Church

Based upon Philippians 3:30

This is the weekend that we celebrate our independence, our freedom declared as a nation.

It is with great pride that I join the rest of you in this sanctuary to call ourselves  Americans. We are unique as a nation in what we stand for and what we represent – and despite of what slippery slop that many would say we have slid down, we were created “one nation, under God.”  …. Lets reminisce.

  During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.[4][5] After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[6]

And who doesn’t love a cook-out, a parade, fireworks, and “old glory” waving in the wind?

But history would read differently for some, and freedom as we would come to know it wasn’t enjoyed by everyone. It would take a nother Declaration to make it so for others. Let’s once again reminisce:

The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.[1]

But even then, freedom would not be the same for everyone – especially the freed slaves.

  Up From Slavery

Booker T. Washington, in his book, Up from Slavery, describes the scenes among the blacks on the night of the proclamation of their freedom.

"There was no sleep that night," he says. "All was excitement and expectancy. Early in the morning we were all sent for. The proclamation was read and we were told that we were free and could go when and where we pleased. ... There was great rejoicing, followed by wild scenes of ecstasy. But," he goes on to say, "the wild rejoicing did not last long. By the time the colored people had returned to their cabins, there was a marked change in their feelings. The great responsibility of being free seemed to take possession of them. It was very much like suddenly turning a youth of ten or twelve out into the world to provide for himself. Within a few minutes the wild rejoicing ceased and a feeling of deep gloom seemed to pervade the slave quarters. Now that they were liberated, they found possession of freedom to be much more serious business than they had anticipated."—Selected.


Yes, freedom would come slow and even to this day we struggle with the word equal.

It’s there, let hear it again, those words from the Declaration of Independence:

The second sentence, a statement of human rights,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, no other nation can claim such equality even though in its practice we struggle to

this day. Today we even struggle with whom to extend that same declaration of equality trying to perfect the right balance of immigration and privilege of naturalization.

Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen or national of that country when he or she was born.

In general, basic requirements for naturalization are that the applicant hold a legal status as a full-time resident for a minimum period of time and that the applicant promise to obey and uphold that country's laws, to which an oath or pledge of allegiance is sometimes added.

Collectively as citizens,  the national publicity regarding a new immigration policy/law, the new Arizona law that raised the national awareness of the challenge of illegal aliens, the ever increasing awareness of drug cartels and organized gangs on a national scale. Nothing can change the challenges that citizens of any country face, but our celebratons, including the one we have come to celebrate yearly with fireworks,  help us celebrate all that is good about being Americans.

Yes, no other nation can claim what we as American citizens enjoy and can call one’s own. Yet, true freedom will never be defined by civil courts, declaration, Constitutions, State or Federal Laws, but by divine language set for in Scriptures as Christians.

Paul says our true citizenship is not claimed on a birth certificate, nor passport, nor Social Security number, nor a line on the IRS data base. No, Paul says that our true citizenship is of heaven – not of this earth. Our heavenly citizenship, awarded by one’s own confession – accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.

We are free in Christ ___ and Paul writes:

Philippians 3: 20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ”

Paul saw through his own citizenship which was constructed to provide protection for its citizens– even as he faced his own mortality claiming Roman citizenship that ultimately would not keep him from execution. Paul wanted us to understand that only Jesus Christ can give true freedom – not from pain, worry, misfortune, war or anything bad, but from the bondage of sin that Paul said whose penalty is eternal death. Yet heavenly citizenship with one’s name written in heaven no one can take away. That’s true Freedom:

True Freedom

Herod could incarcerate John the Baptist and finally behead him, but John was free while his captor was a slave although he was called King; Nero was the slave while Paul was God's free man shouting, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me," in a Roman prison. King James could imprison that humble tinker, John Bunyan, for preaching, on the streets of Bedford, a great spiritual emancipation; but Bunyan was free in a soul that reveled in spiritual visions and delights. Madame Guyon was imprisoned in the lonely Bastille but she sang:

"Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
These for a hermitage;
When I am free within my heart
And in my soul am free
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty."

This is the true freedom that lives under the compulsion of love. Brother, are you really free not only as a citizen of America but of that Heavenly Country? Or are you under the dominion of sin, compelled to give way to evil tempers and lusts—a servant of Romans 7th experience? If so move over into the 8th chapter and shout, "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus bath made me free from the law of sin and death." —Gospel Herald.

Even today, as you face the front of the sactuary, we not only celebrate our Country and Flag for which it stands, but first and foremost our Christian heritage, our Christian Flag which stands to your right, and under the might, powerful and gracious right hand of God to celebrate our true freedom under Christ.

Paul declares in Galations 3:28: 28  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This is ture freedom and true equality under God…..claimed by all Christians – celebrating each day, not just July 4th weekend, but everyday a buried past – forgiven throught the blood of Jesus Christ.

I close with this one last story:

A Buried Past

"The truth," Jesus said, "shall make you free" (John 8:32). On the night of the emancipation of the Jamaica slaves in 1838, a mahogany coffin was made, and a grave was dug. Into that coffin they crowded all the various relics and remnants of their previous bondage and sorrow. The whips, the torture irons, the branding irons, the coarse frocks and shirts, and great hat, fragments of the treadmill, the handcuffs—they placed in the coffin and screwed down the lid. At the stroke of midnight the coffin was lowered into its grave: and then the whole of that throng of thousands celebrated their redemption from thralldom by singing the Doxology! It is a picture of the Christian's buried past.—The Daum.

Yes, in Christ, We are “Free at Last”


from " American Negro Songs " by J. W. Work

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

Way down yonder in the graveyard walk
I thank God I'm free at last
Me and my Jesus going to meet and talk
I thank God I'm free at last

On my knees when the light pass'd by
I thank God I'm free at last
Tho't my soul would rise and fly
I thank God I'm free at last

Some of these mornings, bright and fair
I thank God I'm free at last
Goin' meet King Jesus in the air
I thank God I'm free at las

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