Breathing in, I am free.
Breathing out, I pour out love and grace.
But thank God that although you used to be slaves of sin, you gave wholehearted obedience to the teaching that was handed down to you, which provides a pattern.
In 1963, 300,000 protestors gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and sang the hallmark civil rights song “We Shall Overcome.” Enduring violence, discrimination, political opposition, and painful longing to this day, African Americans continue to recite the famed gospel song when freedom feels most threatened.
Verse after verse, singers repeat one line above all: “Oh, deep in my heart.” Perhaps that’s the only part of our bodies that can’t be chained. Maybe true freedom has to occur deep in our hearts, especially if we’re waiting for oppression or sin to release their grip on the other parts of us.
Paul says the heart is the source of our obedience to God’s grace. Only there can we experience true freedom from sin. Sin will, of course, continue to have its way with us, but if the core of our being knows only a loving, grace-filled God, then we will be free.
True freedom means deciding we are free even under the yoke of an oppressor— racism, selfishness, fear, neglect, indifference, or hatred. With God’s unbelievable grace deep in our hearts, we will face them with freedom.
God the Emancipator, I thank you that I am free no matter what. Like the Roman church, I have committed with my full heart to knowing your love and participating in its life-giving power in the world. Let no form of sin or oppression take that from me, even as I fight to free myself and others from those chains. Amen.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.
from “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan, 1967