What a great summer it has been already! We kicked off the month of June with confirmation, and welcomed Parker Richards, Taleah Monks, and Jeremiah Monks as professing members of the United Methodist Church and this local congregation. It's always such a wonderful thing to walk alongside people, especially young people, as they claim for themselves the freedom and power that God has given us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
I often think about our baptismal vows, our covenant promises as members of Christ's holy Church. In these vows, which have their roots in the practices of the very first Christians, we renounce the evil powers that have taken root in the world as a result of sin. we accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, and we confess Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord. We also promise to serve Jesus as our Lord in the context of his holy Church.
These are weighty words that have real impact on our day to day life. These are words that should give us hope and confidence in the face of any situation. These words, these promises, are rooted in what Jesus has done for us--he was won for us our freedom by taking on and defeating all the power of evil, even death itself.
This month we celebrate an important day in our nation's calendar. July 4, 1776 marked a new day in the history of humankind, and a new experiment in freedom that continues to work itself out even today. We rightly celebrate the freedoms and protections we enjoy as citizens of the United States, especially religious freedom. And as we celebrate this freedom, let us remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are not able to worship God with the freedom that we have in our nation.
And, as we celebrate the political freedom we have inherited as Americans, let us remember the true freedom that Christ has given us: freedom from sin, from fear, and from death. And let us remember our baptismal promises, to live in that gracious freedom under the Lordship of Christ, in the fellowship of the Church. For those whom Christ has set free are free indeed.