Guest Column - Pandemic Reminds Us 'We Have Freedom In Christ'
Last updated 4/22/2020 at 3:43pm
(Editor’s Note: The following is a devotional that Keith Parker wrote for the First United Methodist Church.)
His name was Stan Svec and he was a pastor in Prague, Czechoslovakia during the difficult Communist era. The long secret service interrogations he suffered after my visits there, or his to us in Switzerland, were awful, but he kept being the faithful servant of Christ, tolerating the loss of most freedoms in his land and churches there. Finally, he received permission from the Czech authorities to lead a meditation in the chapel of the international seminary in neutral Switzerland where I was teaching then.
After the service we had coffee in the dining hall for dialogue with the students and faculty. I watched for sensitive questions that might get him into trouble back home. A student from Australia stood to tell him how awful it was in Stan’s homeland, how they had no freedoms. He went on to list how they could not preach freely, not print religious materials, teach Sunday school or go anywhere without being watched. As his list went on with notable “true” limits under the Soviet bloc watchfulness, I noticed tears in Stan’s eyes. I stopped the well-meant tirade of limitations and said let us give our brother a chance to tell us what is on his heart.
He stood and said softly, “I do not understand your questions and statements. You see, as I understand God’s word, if we are in Christ we are free, truly free. The truth makes us free, not what we can or cannot do. Yes, you are permitted many things here in the west we cannot do, but that is not the same. We are free to love others, to help as we can, to witness very personally by our lives. It is Christ who makes us free, not what we can do.”
Not a dry eye in the room.
The current pandemic crisis brought back the memory of my late friend. I see and hear complaints about loss of freedoms and other restrictions. I, too, miss our gathered times for sharing and worship, due to limits set out by other present day “restrictions,” but this greater freedom is ours wherever we are. We are the church whether in the sanctuary, at home, at work or alone. We have freedom in Christ.
(Keith Parker, Dunn’s Rock resident, is a pastoral counselor, Jungian analyst and historian.)