Week 6, Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent
Writing and read by Joost Röselaars, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Rachelle van Andel
Lent, the period preceding Easter that in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. In the Western Church it runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and so includes forty weekdays
Almighty God our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase
our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and
make us ready to serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you
are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you
free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been
slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, #You will be made free$?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave
to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a
place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know
that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me,
because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the
Fathers presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abrahams children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are try-
ing to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him,
“We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to
them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now
I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
The sound of freedom. For the most privileged among us it might sound like ‘doing what you want, self-actualization or realization. Achieve your own goals by your own means and terms. And next… And…next.
But what we encounter in the gospel according to John isn’t exactly this kind of freedom. Or couldn’t be further away from it.
The freedom Jesus talks about is rooted in truth. And truth is rooted in the lived experience of his life and teachings. Not intellectually, but wholeheartedly.
Some time ago a woman – we do not know her name – brought a folding chair to the Dutch parliament. She sat down and went on a hunger strike against racism and discrimination. She just sat there and because of her action the prime minister spoke with her. She sat down against oppression in our society, creating space on a folding chair for freedom – for all. This wasn’t about doing what I want, or what you want, but the freedom she sat down for and was longing for was something bigger – and driven by love. Love for all human beings – starting with just one women and a foldable chair.
It might sound like her action was just one drop in the ocean, and yes, it was exactly that: one drop in the ocean. But it did matter. The Dutch government apologized for our shared history of slavery, repenting the sins of the Dutch state, which makes transformation and true liberation possible. All the drops rooted in love and truth for true freedom do matter.
This means we have to do our own inner work if we take the reading of today serious and want our own drop to matter. We need to repent our own sins.
Which is not really a popular thing to do in a liberal church, I know. .. (where we often believe what we want and liberated ourselves from constraints and have to do’s.)
But let us just try to look honestly and truthfully at our own actions and responsibilities.
Can I honestly look at my own actions and take responsibilities I did or did not do? Was my action rooted in love or fear of losing my position? What do I need to stop doing, or let go, to make change and transformation possible?
You need a whole lot of courage
And maybe a folding chair
To keep everyone in mind who lives under oppression.
And faces injustices every day
But if rooted in love and by actively making room for love
We are capable of so much more than we think.
I am sure. – Do you hear the sound of freedom..now?
May God bless you and keep you
May God’s face shine upon you
May God be gracious to you
And give you peace
gepubliceerd op 28 maart 2023