Today we celebrate our country’s independence. But as a Lutheran I have a heritage of freedom that goes way further back than just the 18th century. You Lutherans are freedom people, their very name confesses that.
“Eleutheros” is a word found in the Scriptures and is often translated “free” and states a condition of “being free”. One of the best places to find the word is in John 8, from which one of the optional Gospel lessons for Reformation Day can be taken. That chapter has that awesome verses (31-32):
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Now, reformation theologians had the habit of adopting other names, which can at times make the task of understanding the history difficult. Johann Bugenhagen can become “Pomeranus” and Phillip Schwartzerdt can become “Melancthon”. One of the other interesting name changes is “Luder” can become “Luther”(from “e-Luther-os”).
When God revealed the Gospel to Luther, his whole identity became wrapped up in the very freedom that God provides in Christ Jesus. His name even changed. It changed to represent the freedom that Jesus brings.
Now, freedom in America is a great gift from God, but one which can be taken away. The freedom of the Gospel, that freedom so excellently confessed in the word “Lutheran” cannot be taken away – it is a freedom untouchable by this world. And this day when the country rejoices in the freedom that it has been given by God, I will also find a greater security in the freedom of Christ. He has made me Lutheran. While you enjoy all those great gifts of country, family, and food today, realize underneath it all is the freedom of the Gospel, the only freedom with lasts forever.