Freedom Rings

The Machias Valley

“Down in the valley where the river meets the sea…”

Nestled in the picturesque Machias valley lies this historic New England village. The Church in this photo played a role in the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War during which local patriots captured a British ship, the Margaretta, took it up Middle River, (foreground) and scuttled it.

New England villages are steeped with the history and ambiance of our nation’s social and religious beginnings. There are village greens, old court houses and cemeteries, and taverns. Magnificent church spires point to the heavens while holding crosses and weather-vanes high above their towns. Belfry clocks keep the village on schedule, clanging bells invite or even summon one to worship, and carillons chime beautiful, old hymns that echo through the town. They remind one of quickly advancing hours and worship opportunities while their steeples tell how the winds are blowing, point to the One from whom all good things come, and proclaim God’s Good News of redemption.

The first battles of the Revolutionary War were fought in New England villages. Our incontrovertible, dearly held God-given rights and freedom of worship were purchased with the bloody sacrifice of brave men and women. But are we truly free? Despite our political and religious freedoms, things we seek or fear become our masters: goals, habits, desires, needs, addictions, relationships, money, professions, ideas, positions and prestige, and our anxieties, and neuroses. We may have Freedom from tyranny of others, but do we have Freedom from tyranny of self? Who will save us from ourselves?

The message symbolized by crosses on village church spires is that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has won our spiritual freedom. Believers are loved, forgiven, restored and free to live as they ought because of Christ. Scripture tell us: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1) He made a covenant freeing us from the power of our sinful natures, pardoning us from the condemnation of our unholiness, undoing the tyranny of death, and guaranteeing life eternal if we but agree that we need him and will trust him.

American song writers have produced some wonderful patriotic hymns which sadly are seldom heard any more. “My Country Tis of Thee” was written in 1831 and beautifully delivers the powerful message of why we know the blessings of freedom. Listen to stanzas one and four and sing them to the tune of “God Save the King.”

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

Meet Chris Mace

Christopher Mace graduated from Bowdoin College and Tufts University School of Medicine.  Served as a Navy Doctor in Vietnam and has practiced medicine in Downeast Maine since 1970.  He is now an Elder at United Baptist Church in Ellsworth Maine.  Chris is the author of two books, Listening to God and Dancing with God.  You can read more from Chris here:  He is married and has four children and three grand children. 

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