August 22, 2004
 He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath.  There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn't even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over. "Woman, you're free!"  He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.
 The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, "Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath."
 But Jesus shot back, "You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it.  So why isn't it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?"
 When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.
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1. You are free!
Supposedly we are aware of where we are captive and where we are not. Would that it were so clear. Here a physical change occurs. What is more difficult are the unseen thoughts and emotions and relationships. In this American culture of depression we still need to hear about freedom that is for freeing rather than freedom that is used as a stepping stone to power.
2. When it gets to a choice between religion and freedom that really frees we hear about a choice between rules. On one side we hear all the rules that constrain past hurtful situations and on the other we hear there are no rules regarding the amount of good that can be done. These perspectives are always alive and well in any group of people and particularly so when it appears there are few other places where we can exercise control (projection of ourself as the standard model for all others).
3. An interesting exercise is to chart what good you do on a regular basis every Sabbath. Having come through blue laws and appeals to literally rest - be apathetic - it is stimulating to raise the question of relaxing the rules of the church and society. Might this be a significant working out of what it means for GOD to bless and hallow a Sabbath time after all the rules from the first six "days" are in place - Do this! Do that! We need a place where we are freed from such rules to start afresh with new creation.
This brings us to a life-giving breathing - in and out - rules and freedom.