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Set Us Free

February 07, 2021

“Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” - Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

This collect immediately brought to mind Hosea 11, which says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love” (Hosea 11:1-4).

I thought of this passage from Hosea because of the emphasis it puts on Yahweh delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt. He brought them out of bondage, sin, and shame that came with being tied down a land that was not their own. These words of God found in Hosea are words of strength to hold fast to. They signify the hope that God gives to Israel, as well as the extent of his love.

In relation to the collect, God’s love is what led him to send Jesus to set us free from sin. Love is the reason we have abundant life through the Holy Spirit today. This incredible gift is revealed to us in the New Testament, but its origin lies in the Old Testament. Abundant life for Israel involved the promised land and God’s holy governance of his people. Today, God’s governance occurs internally for us through the Holy Spirit, yet we see through this passage in Hosea that love is the driving factor behind the Spirit.

Like Israel, God knows us personally and leads us in love and kindness. He holds us up and heals us so that we have the ability to live in his abundant life.

Do you believe that God has done this for you? The words of this collect are powerful and reminiscent of the love of God we see outlined on every page of Scripture. I challenge you to reflect on these words the next few days. Allow God to speak them over you and sanctify you in the truth; his Word is the truth. Recognize what Israel did not: you are healed by the blood of Christ and led in love. This is what it means to be a beloved child of God: you are sealed with his language of hope, mercy, and adoration.

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