Church of England Diocese of Leicester Burbage with Aston Flamville

Thought for the day - Thursday 10th December

10 Dec 2020, 3:30 p.m.

THE FREEDOM TO BE A SAINT

Often, as I talk to my friends and to those I meet, I'm met with a common set of questions:

• ”Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

• "Why does God allow injustice?”

• "Would a truly all loving God condemn the wicked?”

These questions are understandable, especially in our present situation.

The answer is quite simple, Freedom, freedom is more than just an excuse for Mel Gibson to fight the British with questionable historical accuracy.

It is Gods’ most generous gift to us, his willingness to take a ‘back seat’ as it where and allow us to choose his will and his order.

This is echoed throughout the Bible;

• When God lets Adam and Eve choose to disobey him, for better or worse.

• When Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:15,"two ways are set before you, the way of life or the way of death."

• When the apostle Peter choose to deny Christ three times to his own shame.

Perhaps that is what Hell is, the permanent guarantee of human freedom?

Only in a world where man can be punished, are we free to seek reward. Man can only be free to be a saint in a world where he is free to be viscous and cruel.

Recent examples being during the Spanish civil war the church faced persecution on a horrible level by Communist and Socialist forces. Martyrs like the Venerable Florentino Asensio Barroso and Saint Inocencio paid the ultimate price to for their ministry, facing torture and death.

In Nazi Germany Saint Maximilian Kolbe laid down his life for a man he had never meet. He was even offered the choice of life or martyrdom by Mary and chose to do what was right. He was later called the Patron Saint of ‘Our Difficult Century’ by Pope John Paul 11

Of course, martyrdom isn’t just a christen experience, A young Jehovah's Witness also paid for his decision not to renounce his faith. Rudolf Auschner was executed and in his farewell letter to his mother, he wrote: “Many brothers have walked this path, and so will I.”

The power behind these Governments did not dismiss God, they challenged him because they knew he exists. We need to be reminded that, no hammer, sickle or swastika, no flag waving nationalist or money grabbing trust can take from you your freedom to walk with Christ.

Those of you who know me will know how much I love the Russian people, I feel a strong spiritual connection to Russia. That's why I'm going to quote a favourite author of mine:

"The day is coming where men will say there is no crime, there is no sin, there is no guilt. There is only hunger. And men will come to our feet and say make us slaves, just give us bread" - Dostoevsky in the brothers Karamazov.

Today we have an apathetic young generation full of anxiety and with no sense of purpose. One that has tried freedom and left unfulfilled, and now scared of the virus, no longer sees its value. The fire of authoritarianism burns in them, I pray that one day that fire will burn as a Pentecostal light in people instead.

As we as a community are faced with a decision on how to move forward I am reminded of a sermon given once by Fr. Terry at St Peter’s in Aston Flamville in which he said we must choose our procession, that of Judas, Pilate and the soldiers or that of Christ, Peter and the disciples.

I leave you with a quote from a truly great man:

"Free these people. that's the first thing that we have to solve in the world, then all our other problems will be solved and no other problem will be solved until we liberate them." - The Venerable Fulton Sheen.

As our advent journey unfolds, let us consider our freedom, conscious that Christ who sets us free, willingly gave himself for us all, coming to us in human flesh, this Christ child, so vulnerable yet so powerfully.

William Robinson