Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Set Free

"Woman, you are set free from your ailment!" Luke 13:12

It was a remarkable day. Before I went to vote, I sat next to a woman in a doctor's office who had been suffering with pain a long time. But the smile across her face was broad and constant as she spoke of voting for the first time. She is now a citizen of the United States after coming here 15 years ago from Guatemala. She beamed with pride in her right to vote, and her enthusiasm for this historic day that she was participating in. When I went to the our polling place, there were two young women there, near tears with excitement, voting for the first time. Their Dad stood by beaming with pride as he watched his daughters follow him into the voting booth. And then, last night, when, just after eleven, they announced the news that Senator Obama was elected our next president, well, the lid came off. Crying and cheering and singing from many quarters. I had the same feeling I had when we elected Katharine to be our Presiding Bishop. The impossible was possible. The chains were broken. We were set free from impossible to the world of possibility.
I recalled Barbara Harris' consecration, which I attended as a seminarian. I heard the stories from elderly women who had been waiting to have a woman as bishop. And I remember the sparkling old woman who had driven through the night to be there. She was the daughter of a slave, and she said to me, "In Barbara, we all have a bishop -she is my bishop and anything is possible." I also remembered that since the first wave of settlers came to this country, Indigenous people have been praying, watching and waiting in the shadows. We have seen our land seized and destroyed and authority oppress many people. And last night, we were set free from the binding shadows, and were open to what might be possible.

Jesus encounters a woman who had been bent over and twisted from pain for eighteen years. She had been waiting in the shadows in one of the synagogues, watching and waiting and hoping for healing. Jesus set her free. The impossible was now possible, she could walk upright without pain. In doing so, he brought upon himself the wrath of authority who thought it improper to do any work on the sabbath. Her willingness to stay and pray brought joy to everyone. Last night, the joy was tangible and real for a whole nation. No matter how people voted, it was obvious that folks were moved by the promise of a new future.

Today, I want to rejoice for this new sense of freedom. And I want to take seriously the need for sacrifice. Freedom asks each of us to let go of our tired ideals, our selfish wants, our petty squabbles. Freedom calls us to roll up our sleeves for one another. Freedom recognizes that one cannot truly be free until everyone is free. God's freedom is a call to service. I pray today that we can offer all of our gifts, all that we have, so our communities and our nation may thrive. But even more so, I pray that we can humble ourselves so that our world might prosper and be healed. There is no conflict too big for God. May we rely completely on our incredible Creator as we lay down our arms and get to work so that all may know the healing touch of Christ's freedom.

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