John 11:44 – Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi
SONGS about FREEDOM & LIBERATION:
Fierce Blessing — Jan Richardson
Believe me when I say
there is nothing
this blessing would not do
to protect you
to save you
to encompass you.
would stand between you
and every danger,
to wade with you
into the waters that come
It would make
a way for you
through the waters that come
I cannot explain
this blessing feels
but I can tell you
it has more than pledged
itself to you;
it would lay down
its life for you
and not once
look back in regret
nor go in sorrow
for what it has chosen
so deeply blessed,
so utterly encompassed—
what will you save
it is owed
you cannot imagine
failing to pass along
that casts its circle
through this perilous
and precious life.
Simplicity is Freedom — Mary Oliver
When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing – the reason they can fly.
Healing as Form of Liberation
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. — often attributed to Stephen Covey, but he’s on the record explaining that he read it in a book while on vacation in Hawaii and was not able to find the book or attribution again, so it may be: Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, or B.F. Skinner.
I define healing … as the intentional process of reconciling internalized trauma and conflict to position oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually to address continuing challenges in daily life, especially those brought on by varying forms of oppression. Healing is also a liberatory political practice — the politics of emancipation, self-determination, dignity, participation, and equality — for all. Lastly, healing can happen in solitude or community. — Mayowa Sanusi, full article: https://hria.org/2021/07/29/healingandliberation/
Let us work to heal the earth, and to heal one another by redoubling our fight to free the land and its peoples, to free all political prisoners, to build a beloved community of liberation where all can find the enduring peace which is the fruit of our struggles for structural justice. — Matt Meyer
In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected. — Pope Francis
The only way to experience healing and peace is to forgive. Until we can forgive, we remain locked in our pain and locked out of the possibility of experiencing healing and freedom, locked out of the possibility of being at peace…. . — Archbishop Desmond Tutu
We all think we are freely and consciously making our own choices when, in my experience, most people live most of their lives unconsciously! Before transformation, we are basically sleepwalking, going through the motions on the surface of life, which is why spiritual teachers like Jesus and Buddha tell us to “wake up.” When our ego or small self is in charge, we are not free; we are being ordered about by our preferences, our likes and dislikes. Is it really liberating to believe the world revolves around us or conversely, that we must hold it all together?
As we engage in contemplative prayer and allow God to transform us through great love and great suffering, we are reminded of our inherent connectedness. We are liberated from thinking of ourselves as somehow separate from everyone and everything else, including God.
After an authentic God encounter, everything else is relativized. There is only one Absolute and it is God, not us or our culture. Both are de-centered. Through prayer we find God both deep within us and all around us. We know our True Self is part of God and lives in God. We are no longer limited by our culturally conditioned reactions but have access to a greater Source of love and ultimate freedom.
… There is no authentic freedom if we do not also consider the rights and well-being of others. As Pope Francis reflects: Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate. . . .
The transformed person finds freedom in the service of Life and Love. Your life is not about you. You are about life! — Richard Rohr, Center Action and Contemplation, full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/authentic-freedom-2021-01-19/Healing Justice invites us into a generative and transformative journey of curiosity, care and healing for ourselves and each other. It honors all of our brilliance, holds tension, and demands we claim, create, and hold our own safer spaces. It also acknowledges contradictions we know that each of us has, generationally consumed patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism as a form of both trauma and survival. It is not a space for assimilation, rather it is a space where we love radically and lean into our interconnectedness and where we care for ourselves and each other. — Black Freedom Collective
Freedom to Choose is all about redemption and the power of second chances. We assist men and women in stepping free of past identifications as “criminals” and re-identifying themselves as valuable, responsible members of our society. Both qualitative and quantitative results indicate significant benefit for individuals who participate — Freedom to Choose Porject, full article: https://freedomtochooseproject.org/our-work/#the-needTrauma affects every single area of your life, whether you are aware or not. When people come to treatment for trauma, they are often shocked by the ways their freedom has been limited by trauma. Moving through treatment is like unpeeling the layers of an onion. As treatment and therapy progresses, as healing progresses, the layers are continuously revealed. With each new layer of recovery comes a new layer of freedom….
We can never be completely free of our trauma because trauma lives within us as a part of our life. We can be free from the control trauma has over our lives by choosing to recover. Recovery gives us the power to run our own lives, not our trauma. That is a freedom we never forget. — The Guest House, full article: https://www.theguesthouseocala.com/finding-freedom-in-recovery-from-trauma/
Growing up in Baghdad during the Iran–Iraq War and the Gulf War, she remembers how her parents allowed her and her younger sister to freely paint the doors, ceiling, and walls of what they called the “play room” in their house.
“Saying to a nine-year-old that you can paint anywhere in this entire room, it was just everything,” she told Artsy from Los Angeles, where she is based. “Imagine living in a space where you can’t just be you. You have to be aware of everything around you, because if you’re not you can actually be killed. So to have that kind of freedom in that context was emancipatory. It meant a lot and I think that was the first push towards where I wanted to go.” — Hayv Kahraman
Admit —> Surrender —> Freedom. Freedom is the result of emotional healing. It is the end goal. Freedom provides choice and choice provides options for which actions and behaviors you want. The freedom of emotional healing is a freedom that is difficult to describe in words as it creates a new way of living …
This stage of freedom reminds us that change can occur and increases hope and faith that change is possible. … During this stage, a feeling of gratefulness or thankfulness becomes more apparent and deep appreciation for the growth occurs. … — Dave Piltz
Love’s Exquisite Freedom —Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away
the chains of fear from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Simplicity as Freedom — Sr. Jose Hobday (Seneca elder, a prominent Roman Catholic leader, and a Franciscan sister who adheres fully to St. Francis’s radical ideal of holy poverty.)
Freedom is about choices: Freedom to choose less rather than more. It’s about choosing time for people and ideas and self-growth rather than for maintenance and guarding and possessing and cleaning. Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle. It is about poetry and dance, song and art, music and grace. It is about optimism and humor, gratitude and appreciation. It is about embracing life with wide-open arms. It’s about living and giving with no strings attached. . . .
Simple living is as close as the land on which we stand. It is as far-reaching as the universe that makes us gasp. Simple living is a relaxed grasp on money, things, and even friends. Simplicity cherishes ideas and relationships. They are treasured more because simplicity doesn’t cling nor try to possess things or people or relationships. Simplicity frees us within, but it frees others, too. . . . Simple living is a statement of presence. The real me. This simplicity makes us welcome among the wealthy and the poor alike. . . .
We will not be happy living selfishly in a small world. We must live in awareness and in association with the whole real world. Our universe. Our cosmos. Our environment. Our earth. Our air. Our water supply. Our country. Our neighbor. Our car. Our homes. All are part of simple living….
FULL TEXT of SERENITY PRAYER
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. − Reinhold Niebuhr
Facing the Future
Every journey begins
With but a small step.
And every day is a chance
For a new, small step
In the right direction.
Just follow your Heartsong.
− Mattie J. Stepanek (then 8 years old)
COMMENTARY on LAZARUS: Unbound & Returned to Life
In John’s mind the raising of Lazarus becomes a parable of the new life that one must receive through Jesus Christ. If that does not happen, that is, if one sees the dead man walking out of the grave and does not recognize himself or herself as the dead man or woman who needs new life, the result may be either amazement or rejection. In either case, the miracle does not do a thing for the person who is merely a spectator. It is only when the miracle story becomes my own story that the prayer of Jesus in verse 42 is answered. — Jirair Tashjian, at The Christian Resource Institute.
The dead are bound (deo of Lazarus in v. 44 and of Jesus in 19:40) in bandages. Jesus’ act of releasing (luo) Lazarus results in Jesus being physically bound (deo) at his arrest (18:12, 24). These same two words (deo & luo) are used in Mt 16:19 & 18:18 as the authority given with the Keys of the Kingdom — “to bind” and “to loose”. Could resurrected Lazarus symbolize the “loosed” (luo) and the “forgiven” (a frequent translation for aphiemi which is used in the last line of v. 44 “let him go”)? — Brian P. Stoffregen
Jesus had seemed so slow in coming. It seemed as if he was too late. But with Jesus, we find out, it is never too late. Even when we are convinced that all is lost, even when we are ready to concede to the power of death, Jesus demonstrates that there is no loss, no tragedy, no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth, that can place us beyond the reach of his infinite love and abundant life. — Elisabeth Johnson
Love is linked inextricably to death in John (“No one has greater love than this… .” 15:13; “For God so loved…” 3:16), and that is also true in the story of this family. Their relationship with Jesus does not mean that bad things do not happen. He does not prevent Lazarus from dying. But he is ultimately present to them … — Rev Meda Stamper, workingpreacher.org
Contemporary theologians regard Jesus’s actions in resurrecting Lazarus as a central miracle, which sets up a series of events leading to the Crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection from the dead by His Almighty Father. — pray.com
What happens next, although it is not included in the lectionary text, is essential for understanding the passage. Although some of the bystanders believe, others go and report Jesus to the authorities, and it is on this basis, that they decide definitively to put him to death. The immediate way to the cross and Jesus’ own tomb starts here where Jesus is most impossibly, lovingly life-giving. They will plan to kill Lazarus too once the word about him gets out (12:10-11). — Rev Meda Stamper, workingpreacher.org
In the dark of failed relationships, failed programs for happiness, failed dreams of beauty and happy endings. In the entombed hopeless reality of life’s darkness, I have heard an untimely voice. A voice that called my name. Just like Lazarus, for me life and liberation came, through the tears of Jesus and the torment of my hopelessness. I was able to stand up, against all the odds and I understood the meaning of Lazarus’ name. It means, “God has helped” — Peter, The Listening Hermit
Jesus has the power to turn your life upside down. Jesus offers life, but he also offers a cross. He offers life, but only to those that would turn their life away. He offers comfort, but only to those that mourn. Jesus came to afflict the comfortable…
If we don’t have at least a little bit of fear about what discipleship really means, than I’m not sure we really get it. Following Jesus can lead people into dark places – uncomfortable, dirty, smelly places. It can lead us into danger, and bring us into contact with dangerous people. Following Jesus calls us to our pews and our hymns and our rituals, but it also demands that we go out into the world. Jesus calls us to love. And love can be difficult sometimes.
Following Jesus means that we have to love, and its okay if that scares you a little. It should. It means that you’re paying attention. It means that you have your eyes wide open to the cost of discipleship. …
Go knowing that it can be dangerous. Go knowing that Christ is with you. Go knowing that the Holy Spirit will sustain you. Go knowing that love is the only power that lasts. — Rev. Robb McCoy
And, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that Jesus still calls us out, because I still need it. I still stinketh. And some days I stinketh more than others.
I still find myself from time to time bound up and wound up; by the expectations of others, by my own insecurities, by my sin.
But, the promise of the story of Lazarus is that, like Lazarus, Jesus loves us. He weeps for us. He is deeply moved by us. And he brings life to our death, freedom to our bondage, and a shining light to our every darkness. — Rick Morley