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Time for Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." -Galatians 5:1, 13-14

So our theme for this advent season is titled In the Fullness of Time, and we're using that printed resource, so the inserts in the bulletin that the litany was on will be our call to worship each Sunday in this season, and I know we ran out of them last Sunday. And so there are additional copies of the devotional booklet that begins today at the back, feel free to pick one of those up if you did not get one, but we'll be using this series and it's drawn from some of the writings of Roman Catholic priest and theologian Henri Nouwen, he taught at Notre Dame and Harvard and Yale, and later in his life, he retired and lived in a community among developmentally and mentally challenged adult men, and that was how he lived his life, he engaged with people, and he was a prolific writer and helped, I think, unfold and expound upon theological and particularly spiritual issues in a way that was very accessible, his writings are very popular, and so in that devotional, in addition to the Scripture, in some reflection, there will be excerpts , some of his writings, but the series is titled in the fullness of time, and that title actually comes from a verse of Galatians a little bit earlier in the letter than what we actually had read this morning from Galatians Chapter 4, verse 4, it says, But in the fullness of time, when the fullness of time had come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as children.

So if we wanna put this verse in our modern parlance, it would be something like, at just the right moment, God decided to send his son.

And so as we go through this series, each week, we'll be looking at what does that mean, the for us then, if God decided to send Jesus into the world at just the right moment, how does that impact us, what are the things that that does for us?

And so this morning, the first aspect of that that we have before us is this idea of freedom now, as citizens of this country, Freedom is something that we hear a lot about, and it's a good thing. We have some wonderful freedoms, we have the freedom of assembly, the freedom to worship as we choose, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and we could go through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and list out many of those freedoms that we enjoy as Americans, but we also have to recognize and understand that even as wonderful as those freedoms are, many of them come with limits, there are consequences with that freedom of the press should they choose to print things that are untruthful or antagonizing and inciting people to unrest.

That freedom of speech we have is great, but speech that would be considered hate speech is not protected, making threats against the President of the United States is not speech that is protected, and so we recognize and understand that as wonderful as our freedoms are, there are limitations in which those freedoms are bound. And as much as we have embraced and reflect that in the way that our lives, these freedoms that we have as Americans, that's not necessarily one in the same with the freedoms that Paul is talking about. Paul begins this reading that we had, and I'll say Now, I selected these readings because I see these as being kind of the crux of what we're talking about. While Galatians Chapter 5-1 kind of stands alone by itself, it's kind of a hint from what Paul is talking about at the end of chapter four, and if you were to go back and if we were having a lot of time to read through this in sequence, at the end of chapter four in Galatians, Paul is making a contrast between the two women that Abraham had children with, his wife Sarah, who had Isaac, who was the son that God had promised, but also he had a son by Hagar, his wife's maid servant who conceived and bore Ishmael.