To accommodate a recent surge in growth, our church celebrated Easter this year at a large community center that we rented in downtown Modesto. Esthetically, I love worshipping in this building. In a prior life, the building and grounds housed an old multi-bay brick garage where the county vehicles were serviced and maintained. Since then, this large building has been gutted and beautifully renovated for community events, but the old brick walls remain and it maintains a historic look.
The location is perfect too. The building is located in the center of downtown Modesto and sits across the street from the Stanislaus County Jail. What a perfect venue for an Easter celebration.
We sang loudly this morning. We sang about Jesus. The Redeemer. The one whom the Bible declares came to set the prisoners free.
Throughout the entire Easter service, sitting a few hundred feet away from a literal and physical prison, I found it hard not to make the connection. My imagination drifted to what it would look like if someone walked in to the county jail and unlocked the prison doors to let each of the prisoners free.
Prisoners would run out, right? They would run from their cells as quick as they could, right? That is what our Easter celebration was about this morning. Easter is about celebrating Jesus and the freedom He brings us from sin and bondage.
Yet I am baffled by those who choose to remain in prison. Although freedom is offered, they refuse. I am baffled by others, who accept the gift of freedom only to return to a new prison cell that they create out of their own religious behavior and morality, they've exchanged one prison for another.
If we are free, we are free indeed. Free to follow Jesus and serve Him, because of His work on our behalf. It reminds me of the line in the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: "Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee."
The goodness of God. The love of the Redeemer. It draws us out of our prisons of sin and religion into loving obedience to our savior.
Quietly making noise,