De-liberation: Thoughts about Proper 18 Year A

Exodus 12 is about liberation. The freedom God made available to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt became a foundational narrative in the biblical story. From time to time, kings, priests, and prophets would retell the story to recall the mercy and power of God.

Matthew 18 is about liberation. The freedom God made available to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, but also the freedom to other generations of exiles, becomes the Jesus-centered narrative telling of the mercy and power of God.

Both passages are concerned about process, though. You don't just get freed. Freedom requires some kind of deliberation. In Blogging Toward Sunday, Kristin Swenson writes, "Jesus and Paul agree that it requires careful consideration and judgment on our parts. In other words, as people of God, we have great responsibility to determine, in the day to day of our lives, how to love. Simply being nice isn't going to cut it. Real love in a down and dirty world requires informed deliberation (italics mine) and sometimes tough choices. Jesus' remark about "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" brings to mind less a geographical place than a state of being. How we love or fail to love affects our relationships both to others and to God. Maybe, as Jesus suggests, in our dealings with others, we are not only learning to love, but we are also constantly shaping heaven."

Deliberation, while it sounds thoughtful, also runs counter to our intuitions about freedom. Taking the word apart a bit, to deliberate would mean to attach or bind oneself to something. There is an undoing of liberation in the prefix "de". There is a trading in of one bondage, and choosing something else to which we bind ourselves, not in bondage, but in choice.

Please take a listen to "I Bind My Heart This Tide," from the Mennonite Hymnal, sung here by Farther Along.

There's a surging freedom in becoming de-liberated.