Wednesday December 20, 2000

Read: John 8:31-36

I grew up on five acres of land, of which about half was a long, narrow field which merged into a swampy woods. I spent many a sunny summer day crawling through tunnels in the long grass of the field with siblings and friends. Sometimes we would take peanut butter sandwiches and kool-aid and have a picnic lunch as we balanced on a bent over tree branch or sat on the rusting frame of an abandoned wagon that had mostly rotted away. After dark we would play hide and seek in the field. And the woods provided endless hours of exploration. Sometimes we would dig around and find old bottles in the ground. Once we even caught a fish, which we kept in our fish tank for a long time.

The charm of the wintertime woods was a little different. The swamp had just enough water that we could ice skate when it froze. It wasn't very smooth, and we had to skate around trees. But it was enough to make us happy by the time we trudged back through the field, with pink cheeks and cold fingers, to the house.

For me, the field and the woods on my parents' property holds happy memories, perhaps most of all because it was a place and a time of freedom. There we were safe. The only eyes on us were watchful eyes, looking out for our safety. There were no grave dangers-- no traffic, no bullets flying, no one to lead us astray, no drugs, no violence, and no prejudice. There in the field and the woods we didn't learn how to hate. We weren't enticed by money or possessions. We did gain an appreciation for the goodness of God's creation. And we learned to give and take, and how to get along.

Not all the world's children have opportunities to learn such lessons. In some places orphans are locked away with hardly a chance to see daylight. In other places, life is always in peril. Christ came to set us free. But perhaps the world will know the freedom Christ brings only when all the world's children live in the safety and freedom of the field and the woods. --JAL

Prayer: God of the free, you sent Christ to inaugurate peace on earth. As an instrument of your peace, show me how to make all of the world's fields and woods and cities and villages safe for people at any stage of life. Amen.

For your meditation:
What does being free mean to you? Free from what? Free for what? What freedoms did the world gain with Christ's birth? What freedoms does God give? What connections are there between freedom in the world and the freedom Christ gives?

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