Sixth Week of Easter: Notes of Liberation

May 5, 2024

Notes of Liberation (Reflection)

6th Sunday after Easter

Let my people go!”  Every day via the internet I hear those words. They are spoken in the voices of

Palestinians about the open-air prisons for millions that are Gaza and the West Bank;

the families of Israeli hostages still waiting to find out the fate of their loved ones and hoping against hope to see them safe at home;

Indigenous communities in Canada and Black communities in the U.S. who point out the unjustly high number of their people in incarceration;

from refugees held in detention

from political prisoners I learn of from Amnesty International;

from the Uighur Muslims in China being held in indoctrination camps,

the people of Darfur under siege by an army known for its brutality.


“Let my people go!” is God’s cry too, whenever human beings are held in bondage.  “Let my people go!” are the words Moses was given to speak to the Pharaoh of Egypt, one of the most powerful rulers of the day, who had enslaved the Hebrews who had been given refuge in Egypt generations before.


Prison, detention, occupation, enslavement. They’re ehumanizing, dangerous, and deadly.  We know it.  Jesus’ first sermon in the New Testament quoted the prophet Isaiah and the Psalms in declaring “release to the captives”; one of his most famous parables and teachings spoke of “visiting those in prison”.  His own first followers were unjustly imprisoned, punished, executed. Yet today, we speak of liberation through Jesus.  What could this possibly mean for today?


Honestly, this was a tough one for me. Quite clearly, so many people have not been made free!  Knowing Jesus does not guarantee freedom. Knowing Jesus doesn’t even automatically mean we will work for the freedom of others held unjustly – but I believe it should.  Look at the ancient story of how Moses and Miriam and Aaron and God all worked together to free the people of Israel. It’s evident in the story that God had the power to perform miracles: all those plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, etc. Yet God didn’t just smite the Egyptians and send angels to lead the people out of Egypt. God chose human beings to go and speak to the powers that be and demand their people’s freedom.  There is a famous saying that goes something like, “Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not”.  When I am tempted to feel hopeless about what I see in the world, and I sit in tears before the pain of the friends whose loved ones are imprisoned and oppressed, these words come back to me.


Jesus, too, did not act on his own. He called people together, an inner circle and a wider group who were taught and mentored by that inner circle, to challenge the powers that dominated his people – not by advocating violent revolution, but by preaching love of enemy and non-violent resistance.  Paul and Peter and many others stood in front of local rulers and declared the truth that they had found in Jesus. Some rulers listened and released them; others did not and punished them.  But they kept bearing witness.


We’re a team, we and Jesus, we and God. We’re a team – all people of good will and good conscience who envision a world like the one that Jesus said was coming into being: Freedom for prisoners, sight to the blind, liberty for the oppressed.  Jesus’ job is to lead us in the path of righteousness; ours is to follow – to love as he loved, to challenge as he challenged, to lead others as he leads us.


One of the things I’ve observed in recent years is an increasing tendency to fight within ourselves – and by that I mean that within a group of people with broadly shared goals little subgroups will form, and one will attack the other because they don’t share exactly the same approach or exactly the same viewpoint.  I think the oppressors of the world laugh when this happens, because it weakens the greater movement for change. When the Pauline faction and the Jerusalem faction led by Peter and James disagreed over how much Jewish practice Christian converts needed to adopt, that weakened Jesus’ movement. When the followers of Apollos and the followers of Paul got into conflicts, that weakened Jesus’ work in the world.  When progressive Christians fight over whether we should be involved in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against all of Israel or just the Israeli settlements, or whether we should be involved with BDS at all, who benefits? When liberal Christians start accusing each other of not being politically correct enough, or of having the wrong kind of worship, or of not caring enough about X issue and caring too much about Y issue, who is laughing at us? There’s an old saying to the effect of “When Christians fight, the Devil laughs”. Probably not a literal Devil, but certainly quarrels about goodness strengthen the opposite.


Jesus’ instructions to Peter were brief and to the point: if you love me, feed my sheep.  That doesn’t’ just mean “feed the hungry”, it means” give my people what they need to experience abundant life”. That’s what leaders do – and we shouldn’t let small disagreements or even big ones get in the way of trying to live in the path of Jesus:  turning the world upside down if necessary to get it right-side up in Gods’ eyes.


The work of liberation is hard work, and it’s long-term work.  Ask our First Nations community; ask the descendants of enslaved peoples; ask hostages held in Gaza and Haiti; ask the people of Palestine.  But we have streams of water ready to refresh us while we work, and a place of calm and quiet in which to rest. We have the assurance of the God of our predecessors in faith, a fiery and energizing presence that will not cease to burn. We find strength in communion with our Shepherd, at his table, in the company of the rest of the flock.  We find it as we sing, study, pray, commune with one another in the presence of the Christ and in his name.


This series is called “Resurrection Stories” and so I want to finish with a brief story of liberation..


Corrie ten Boom was a member of the  Underground resistance in the Netherlands during the Second World War. She worked with her father, Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. They hid them in their home, which was only a block from the police station!   She and her family were devout Calvinist Christians, but  never tried to convert their Jewish guests and honoured the Jewish sabbath with them.  They respected Jews as the people of the Covenant at Sinai.  The Ten Booms created “The Hiding Place” (Dutch: De Schuilplaats). The secret room was in Corrie’s bedroom behind a false wall and would hold 6 people. A ventilation system was installed for the occupants. A buzzer could be heard in the house to warn the refugees to get into the room as quickly as possible during security sweeps through the neighborhood.[14]  They became part of a network of safe houses for escaping Jews, as well as people with intellectual disabilities who were also targeted by the Third Reich. They’re estimated to have helped around 800 Jews evade the Nazis.


They were caught, and she was arrested and sent to a series of camps, ending up at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She and her sister held evening services at the labour camp and shared whatever meagre resources they had with others.  Her father and sister died while incarcerated. Corrie was eventually released and went on after the war to set up a home for concentration camp survivors as well as former collaborators who struggled in postwar Holland.  Her liberation from the camp, she was told later, was due to a clerical error.  She was to have been sent to the gas chambers a week later.  Corrie was named “Righteous among the Nations” by the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance organization Yad Vashem for her liberating work.


All her life Corrie continued to share about God’s love and forgiveness,  even publicly forgiving two guards that had worked at the Ravensbrück camp, including one who had been particularly cruel to her sister Betsie.  Connie went from liberator, to prisoner, to being liberated herself – and her heart, more than anything else, seems to never have been captive to the vengeance and rage that haunt so many.  She said, “”The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” Through Christ, she knew the meaning of liberty.




The Watchmaker’s Secret Room: Corrie ten Boom, The Holocaust Rescuer Behind “The Hiding Place” | A Mighty Girl

Corrie ten Boom – Wikipedia

The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom THE HIDING PLACE Read Online Free Without Download – PDF, ePub, Fb2 eBooks by Corrie Ten Boom (

The Hiding Place – Official Trailer (2023) (



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