HeavenFor freedom, Christ has set us free.”  That’s how our reading from Paul’s letter to his sisters and brothers in the young Galatian church begins this Sunday.  You can catch the reading by clicking here.

Freedom.  What does that even mean?  And if we’ve been set free, supposedly at one time, we were enslaved?  Enslaved to what or to whom? What’s Paul talking about?

What does it mean to be free?  I wonder.  I think that in much of our culture, the definition is pretty thin these days.  Likely, the freedom most of us think about is quitting our job once we win the lottery – don’t worry, given the United Church’s stance on gambling, my odds are poor indeed.  🙂

Maybe freedom is when children get old enough to get out into the world on their own, and suddenly parents are free to live life differently than ever before.  Maybe it’s the freedom that comes with summer’s warm days and a shot at vacation that frees us from the daily grind and yearly routine.We can all feel a bit enslaved by the demands of our workplaces at times…I hope M&P isn’t reading this….it is summer so hopefully they’re at the beach!

For many folks, there’s a certain freedom from coming to the 9:30 service during July and August.  Let’s hold onto that example for a second, and no, not because I need to offer a holy guilt trip, but seriously, summer worship normally turns out very few people in lots of active congregations, including ours. Why is that?

After our absolutely awesome Sunday School closing and picnic at Oakfield Park last Sunday, many a faithful member of SJUC said in hushed tones…”It will only be you and Lorraine and Peter on Sunday!”  Apparently they believe Lorna gets the summer off worship too…sheesh.

Maybe we feel drawn elsewhere on Sundays during July and August because summer offers us the chance to be free of an obligation, to do something different, to switch gears.  Maybe we’re able to free ourselves of a relationship that we have to commit to and invest heart mind and soul in?  To be in a meaningful relationship with others and with God takes a lot of energy and yes, life and faithful witness, tend to ask that of us.

I mention all of this because in many ways, I think freedom in our culture has been boiled down to the ability to rid ourselves, even momentarily, of responsibilities and demands and relationships.  In other words, freedom has become a thin version of liberty, and the two are not one in the same.

I’ve often been struck by just how blatant this version of freedom is bought and sold in our culture.  Take liquor commercials for example, which are always fascinating and given that Canadians drink 50% more than the global per capita average, these messages have a very invested audience.  Now I’m not talking about the proverbial beer commercial (let’s not go there).  No, I’m thinking about the ritzy boozy rum commercials which are in heavy rotation right now as the industry knows it’s game time for summer profits.  Take a peek at this Appleton add here.

Most alcohol adds want to sell us freedom.  Everyone in the add is free to do what they want, when they want, how they want.  No one is ever hurt.  There is no consequence or repercussion in the choices made.  The party is perfect and constant.  Everyone seems to be dressed for what happens when the camera’s eye is turned away and that implic