Freedom and the Coming of the Spirit
Seventy one years ago the war in Europe was drawing to an end. After years of chaos, hurt, murder and injustice the armies of the foe were brought to a halt and the evil that had threatened all of Europe and much of the world was overcome. It was then that Celebrations broke out across the world as the Allied troops brought freedom and jubilant celebration joined prayerful gratitude that deliverance had come. To this day we remember the feelings, the celebrations the triumph of right over wrong and good over evil. The speeches live on in our minds, the prayers of gratitude continue to rise and the stories continue to be told to the generations of our families and celebrated in times of remembrance across the free world.
It cost a lot to win our freedom. Many died, many were the wounded and impaired. Devastation was far-spread and haunting memories live on. As a nation the people of the Netherlands continue to give tokens of heartfelt thanks to the people of Canada in recognition of the cost of freedom and the sacrifices made by so many families and individuals in times that called for selfless courage in confronting evil and then in rebuilding nations ravaged by war.
The tulips in our gardens at HCH are a living witness to the gratitude of the Dutch, as are the annual ceremonies and formal times of worship and fellowship. The flags are flown together to show that we were and are kindred nations in time of need as well as times of wellbeing. Freedom is precious and must be kept in order to share blessings with the generations that continue to be born. May we ever stand on guard!
This month we will celebrate Pentecost as believers here at HCH but also as believers around the world. It is the holiest time of the year, coming from the dark night of Good Friday through the Morning of the Resurrection and to the witness of Christ’s Ascension to the Father. Before Christ rose to return to the Father He said it was for our good that he went to the Father because he would send us the Holy Spirit. The witness to that is found in Acts 1 and 2 and in the hearts of believers who have the assurance that the triune God has come to dwell in our hearts. He has overcome sin, conquered evil and rebuked the power of Satan. Once we were dead in sin, but Romans 6 affirms that we now live in Christ. We are dead to sin, alive to Christ and are no longer under the power or domination of the evil one. Romans 6:22-23 are wonderful words of assurance and encouragement. They speak of forgiveness, freedom, holiness and eternal life and all of those things are present realities in the life of every person who trusts in Jesus for their salvation.
Romans 8 speaks of life in the Spirit and it affirms in the powerful hymn of praise found in verses 28 to 39 that we are more than conquerors over the sin, troubles and temptations of this world because we are in Christ and cannot be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What a reality to embrace and what a message we have to proclaim to the nations! True freedom is found in Christ and in belonging to the Kingdom of God. As we gather to sing praises and to pour out our prayers of thanksgiving on days of national thanksgiving for freedom won in war, let us also praise our ascended living Lord for his gift of salvation and his presence in the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts!
Pastor Hank Bylstra.