This morning, I came across a Facebook discussion that stated that our freedom was bought by Christ and therefore we, as Christians, might want to consider not celebrating Independance Day. In light of being in this place, I nearly came unglued!
One of the reasons this summer’s journey was so important to me is that I wanted to experience being part of a minority group that receives no special accomodations. Among those, I wanted to experience what it is like to be a Christian in a place where it is not only the minority but, in certain cases, may cost you your life. That desire has been fulfilled and there have been occasions where I had to remind myself: “Be careful what you wish for!”
I took this photo in Greece. Little did I know then how much I wish I could take a similar photo today!! Just an everyday setting for my morning prayer; however, it is one that I can not have here. I was not allowed to bring my Bible. Yes, I have a digital version on my phone and tablet but I MISS my familiar paper version. In a couple of days, I will be reunited with it. Additionally, when I left Greece and arrived in the Middle East, Ramadan was in full swing which meant open consumption of anything, water or food, was prohibited. So the water bottle (or, more ubiquitously, my cup of coffee) have not been part of the picture for a good portion of the journey.
The small icons in this photo were a new acquisition. They too are safely tucked away at my friend’s house in another country. As a new acquisition, they are not nearly as missed as something that has been part of me for the past twenty plus years; my necklace with cross. I am currently in a place where to openly wear a symbol of Christianity could be damaging. I am anxious to be reunited with that chain that has my St. Nicholas cross that my mother brought from her journey to Scotland, my Taize’ dove/cross that a young woman brought for me from France, and a Jerusalem cross that a classmate brought from Israel. That chain (along with my daughter’s baby rings) is not only a symbol of my faith but also of the love and community of love that is such a large part of my life. I can’t wait to place it back around my neck later this week!!! But, that is because I have had the blessing of growing up in a country that holds religious freedom at the cornerstone.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sister. Only do not use your freedon as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” -Galatians 5:13
We may have forgotten why so high a cost was paid for our freedom. Today, back home there will be parades and parties and food galore. My hope is that, in the midst of the celebration, we will remember to love and serve one another. We have the opportunity to share our love and the Good News openly in the US. Here, we must do it (mostly) in private (so I am prohibited from showing the faces of these two young women). But, we share the Good News here by first building relationships of love and serving others. That can happen in far off places like this and closer to home with our next door neighbors or grocery store clerk.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17
Today, I give thanks for the freedoms that were purchased at SO costly a price! Being in this place has taught me SO much about SO many of the freedoms and conveniences I experience in everyday life back in the US. I give thanks for the many freedoms we may often forget or fail to appreciate. And I look forward to experiencing them again very soon.