John 8: 31-38 (NRSVA)
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ 33 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”?’
34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 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. 38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
Ozzy the dog, in full flight, searches out the choicest smells in the woodland, runs up the stony banks and snuffles through snow-covered grass, scattering pheasants as he goes. He has freedom to run, to chase, to delight in the sensory-laden surroundings. He can be fully in the moment because he has a home, food, shelter, a routine, care, and belongs to a family.
I continue to watch dog rescue YouTube videos of animals left to fend for themselves on the street, free to roam. Often wilfully abandoned by their owners, they bear scars and injuries from living this uncared for life. Needing medical attention, food, bathing and fostering before adopting out, they gradually let go of fear. Follow up films show a changed dog in their new ‘cared for’ life: happy, knowing they have a place to be; able to relax and live in trust of humans once more.
Jesus invites us to believe in him and be set free for a new kind of life; to know that our true home is not this world; and that God’s view of what is important is different to that which our society holds. All are invited to trust Jesus and be welcomed as God’s sons or daughters, forgiven of the things that shame or hold us, and invited to live with all the privileges of the Father’s household. Living in the gift of life we have, trusting God for whatever it may hold.
There is much I do not understand in this world,
Unseen forces working for oppression and destruction,
Power at the cost of others’ lives and wealth,
Repeated generation to generation.
I am not immune from trials in this world,
Part of the system into which I was born.
Yet, you invite me to live with different eyes,
See Hope in Your way of life.
The family I am welcomed into,
A sign of a new birthing, a new creation
Alive in the Holy Spirit
Where the lion and lamb lay down together.
I am welcomed to the banquet
Prepared in the presence of my enemies.
This is freedom, this is Love.