At the base of the Statue of Liberty these memorable words are inscribed:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost, to me."
These words have served as a beacon to countless immigrants, inviting them to lay aside the burdens of the past—to turn their back on the oppression and poverty of their homelands— to reject the principalities and powers of the present age—to refuse to succumb to hopelessness, despair and frustration—and seek a fresh, new start.
But as we celebrate our freedom as a nation, I want to remind us all of these unforgettable words of Jesus:
"Come to me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;,br /> for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
They too represent a summons—an invitation if you will—to lay aside the weight of our past—to repudiate the oppression and poverty of our past—to spurn the principalities and powers of our present age—to resist surrendering to a sense of hopelessness, despair and frustration—and choose newness of life instead of a slow death of the spirit.
But notice there is a profound difference in the two invitations. One is the invitation of a figure made of steel and copper—the symbol of a nation—while the other is the summons of a Living Lord, the first fruit of the Kingdom of God. One offers a freedom that is political and economic, while the other offers the liberation of the spirit. One offers a new life that is passing and short lived, while the other offers a life that is eternal. Taken together, these two invitations serve to remind us that the words “God” and “country” don't always go together. There is a difference—although it is often ignored. While both invitations speak to the deep longing that all human beings to be free of the burdens of our past, only one of these invitations can offer us the opportunity to truly live as new and free persons.
The One who offers this invitation doesn’t stand in New York harbor. In fact, He stands as close to you as your next prayer. And He is ready to lift away the load of failure and shortcomings we all carry. He is waiting to transform and renew who you are through the power of His amazing grace. He is waiting to free you from the past, and offer you the promise of a new life.
That is why this July 4th weekend I hope you will join us at Central for a celebration of freedom that is more than political or economic. Join us as we embrace God’s promise of liberation—as we lay aside the sins that cling so closely to us—and receive healing for our souls.
~ Pastor Terry