My key word for today is freedom and I wish to look at three celebrations of freedom. I wish to look at the Feast of Passover, the Fourth of July, and Easter Sunday.
The celebration of Passover is a major feast for our sisters and brothers of the Hebrew Covenant. It is an eight-day celebration which begins when we reach the first full moon after the first day of spring. Passover is basically a family feast which is celebrated in the home and the highlight is the Seder meal.
This sacred meal includes a ritual in which the youngest child asks questions, and the parents and grandparents provide the answers. During a typical Seder meal, the child will ask, “Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight?” And one of the adults will say, “To remind us of the bitter slavery which we endured at the hands of the Pharaoh before the Lord came to our rescue and set us free.” “Why do we have salt water on the table?” To remind us of the tears that were shed in our struggle for freedom. “Why do we eat lamb during our Passover Meal?” Because the lamb saved our lives in the land of Egypt. The angel of death stayed away from homes which had the blood of the lamb on their door posts. “Why do we have unleavened bread?” Because the bread reminds us of our freedom. When our ancestors ran to safety and freedom, they left in a big hurry, and they did not have time to let the bread rise. That’s why unleavened bread is called the bread of freedom.
Now let’s look at a scene which takes place when we celebrate the Fourth of July. When children see the ceremonies and the parades, they ask us, “What are we celebrating?” And we say, “This is Independence Day. We are celebrating the freedom which we have in our country.” Why does our flag have thirteen stripes? Because our country had only thirteen states when we declared our independence. Why do we see so many pictures of the bald eagle? Because the eagle is a sign of freedom. Eagles are free to fly wherever they want to.
I would like to look at some questions which children ask us when we celebrate Easter.
Sometimes they ask: Why do we have lilies in church today? Because the lily is a bulb which needs to be buried in the soil. After it is buried, it rises up and produces a beautiful flower and it has a new life. And that reminds us of how Jesus had a new life after he was buried. He rose from the dead three days after he was buried in the Holy Sepulcher.
Why do we have Easter eggs? Because the egg is a sign of new life. The egg contains the embryo of a chicken. When the egg hatches a new life comes into our world.
Why do we see pictures of beautiful sunrises on Easter cards? Because at sunrise on Easter Sunday Mary Magdalene discovered that the tomb was empty.
Why do we see a white cloth hanging over the cross? Because Jesus has broken free from the chains of death. He does not need a shroud anymore. He has destroyed the power of death. He is free to live His New Life. Easter means that Jesus has been set free from the power of death.
With that in mind, I come to my conclusion that Easter should be called a celebration of freedom. During the glorious night that we call Easter, our loving creator set Jesus free from the chains of death. However, God did not stop there. We believe that God also set us free.
During the glorious night that we call Easter, our loving God set us free from the power of sin. And now is the proper time to think about the freedoms we have received since God worked the Easter miracle.
Easter means that we are free to love others without being possessive. We are free to forgive without seeking retaliation. We are free to serve our neighbor without seeking reward. We are free to live for others, rather than for ourselves. We are free to be kind to people without worrying about what others will think.
The Easter miracle is giving us so many spiritual freedoms.
We are free to pray even when prayer does not give us the good feelings that we wish it would give us. We are free to serve people even when they don’t thank us. We are free to place the needs of others higher than our personal needs. We are free to be optimistic about the future because we know that God will be in our future doing good things for us. We are free to take on new challenges because we know that God will help us in our time of need.
When we live in the shadow of the Resurrection, we are free to do good without expecting immediate results. Easter is giving us so many spiritual freedoms. What I have is listed is only a small sampling. Easter means that God has given us an unlimited number of spiritual freedoms.
I will close with a short summary.
Easter means freedom for Jesus and freedom for each of us. Jesus has been set free from the chains of death and we have been set free from the power of sin. In fact, we have so many spiritual freedoms that we can’t count them all. During our time of prayer we should give thanks for our spiritual freedoms.
We take a moment now to thank the Lord because we are free. Free to love, free to serve and free to pray.