Much of our national press has started to designate July the 19th as ‘Freedom Day.’ Whilst the actual
day when lockdown restrictions might finally be lifted might be pushed back slightly, the success of
the vaccination program, the reductions in hospital admissions and the relatively low rates of deaths
from Covid in recent days are all leading to the general assumption that fifteen months of
incarceration, in one form or another, might finally be coming to an end.
The notion of freedom from captivity is a deep-rooted theme in the biblical narrative. We have the
story of the Exodus when the people of God experience a miraculous liberation from the oppression
and slavery suffered at the hands of their Egyptian oppressors, and begin their journey to freedom in
the promised land.
We also have Christ’s Nazareth declaration at the beginning of his ministry, when he uses a passage
from the prophet Isaiah to define his mission, stating that he has come to proclaim, ‘release to the
captives and to let the oppressed go free.’ (Luke 4:18)
The same themes of slavery and freedom are picked up by those championing the abolition of
slavery and the ending of discrimination during the 19th and 20th Century. Note Dr Martin Luther
King’s famous speech of his vision of the future, ‘I have seen the promised land’ and his somewhat
prophetic insight into the fact that he himself might not enter it.
There are of course many parallels with the predicament we find ourselves in. Perhaps the one most
difficult to bear is the fact that not everyone who started this journey will finish it with us. There will
be some notable absences from our company. Loved ones who will be sorely missed, for whom the
journey was too far and too taxing.
As we emerge from the pandemic, there will no doubt be a mixture of emotions; sorrow, regrets,
loneliness, and perhaps even anger at what appears to be an unjust outcome or an avoidable cost.
There will also no doubt be relief, perhaps even joy, that ‘normality,’ however that might be defined,
is finally returning. Relationships can now be re-established, family and friends meet and even give
the occasional hug!
Hopefully, we will emerge as more compassionate, more understanding individuals, more
appreciative of those we may have taken for granted. Perhaps more able to re-evaluate the things
that really matter in life, and those that we can hold more loosely in future.
The promise of Jesus is that he has come to bring to us life in all its fulness. As we pick up our lives
again after such a long time of what we might consider to be a captivity and an oppression, may we
find not only an abundant life -but also the author and sustainer of all life - God himself.