Made for Freedom
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
—Galatians 5:1 (NRSV)
VICKI KEMPER | In the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, Brooks, the prison librarian who has been behind bars for fifty years, is granted parole. Faced with the prospect of a life drastically different from the one he’s known, he panics. Outside in the real world, he’s so frightened that he considers committing a crime so he will be sent back to the brutal place he knows as home.
The other inmates don’t understand. Shouldn’t Brooks be celebrating his freedom? The inmate Red tries to explain:
“He’s just institutionalized,” Red says of Brooks. “This is all he knows . . . These walls are funny. First you hate ‘em, and then you get used to ‘em. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on ‘em.”
And so it is with us. We’ve gotten used to the less-than-ideal way things are. But we were not made to wallow in regret or remorse. We were not made to resign ourselves to oppression and injustice, disappointment and division, loneliness and fear.
Lent invites us to acknowledge the walls and wounds that separate us from the life God wants for us. Jesus shows us the way to freedom and walks beside us, and Spirit empowers us to take the scary but necessary steps toward new life.
Tragically, Brooks has no community on the outside, and he never adjusts to life beyond prison walls. Thank God for the gift of the church. May it always serve as a midwife to freedom.
PRAYER I know I can’t change the past but, by your mercy, heal me and deliver me that I might cooperate with your grace to change the future.About the Writer:
VICKI KEMPER is Pastor of First Church Amherst (UCC) in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.