Advent 2012:  Week 3 - Hope in the one who sets us free

advent candles


Hope in the One who sets us free. Isaiah 42:1-7,  John 8:31-36
At some point in our lives all of us have been captive to something. There are the obvious things that enslave us like drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. And there are the less obvious things too; fear, anxiety, regret, anger – and these are no less significant or serious. 
If you are comfortable to do so, it might be extremely encouraging to others to share a personal story about over-coming something to which you’ve been captive.  Perhaps reflecting particularly on how God was at work and how he set you free. 
It may be that you have things with which you still struggle, and again, if you are comfortable and it’s appropriate you may wish to share these and ask for your housegroup to pray with and for you. 
You might like to worship God together using one or both of these songs:
This is the anthem of the free
Matt Redman
This is the anthem of the free
This is the song of the redeemed
Jesus, your praise is rising higher and higher and higher
We'll sing it loud we'll sing it srtong
We'll sing it all around the world
Jesus, your praise will last forever and ever and ever

Hear the sound of the free
Hear the cry of liberty
We will rejoice in you
We will rejoice
As we sing of all you've done
And the wonders of your love
We will rejoice in you
We will rejoice

Rising up all around the earth
Is a heavenly song of your endless worth
Growing louder and louder and louder

My troubled soul
Robert Critchley
MY TROUBLED SOUL, why so weighed down?
You were not made to bear this heavy load
Cast all your burdens, upon the Lord
Jesus cares, He cares for you

Jesus cares, He cares for you
And all your worrying

Won't help you make it through
Cast all your burdens upon the Lord
And trust again in the promise of His Love


I will Praise the mighty name of Jesus
Praise the Lord, the lifter of my head
Praise the Rock of my Salvation
All my days are in His faithful hands

My anxious heart, why so upset?
When trials come, how you so easily forget
To cast your burdens upon the Lord
Jesus cares, He cares for you.

The words from Isaiah 42:7 are very similar to the words in Isaiah 61 that Jesus quoted in the Temple.  At first glance we could be forgiven for thinking that the two are the same.  The gist of the words certainly is:
Speaking of the Lord’s servant in Ch42 the prophet says:  “I will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
In Isaiah 61 we read:  “…He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” 
In both these passages, which have traditionally been understood to have met fulfillment in Christ, one aspect of the life and mission of the Messiah is made clear – the bringing of freedom and release. 
Of course on one level this means the freeing of mankind from Sin and the release of humanity from death into glorious life – Jesus work as the atoning sacrifice, the one who wins forgiveness for us. 
But it also applies on a host of other levels too.  It’s a mistake to think that Jesus, and after his ascension, the Holy Spirit, are only interested in this one macro-transaction, and that this accomplished, we’re just left to get on with life, fighting our way through as best we can.  No, quite the reverse.  Jesus frees us from Sin and death, and he also frees us from anything that would bind or enslave us in our lives as his disciples.  He’s not only concerned with our end destination and the eternal life with God, he’s also interested in the journey we make and the life we lead now.  And it is here that we’re able to find freedom.
Much is often made of the tension in the Christian life between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’.  The tension that exists as the rule of reign of Christ is begun, but not fully realized.  The tension of being at the same time forgiven and made clean and yet continuing to struggle with sin. 
One of the most helpful ways to think about it is that we are taking hold of what is already ours, making manifest and real in the present what we will only fully know in the future.  It’s about the kingdom of God, established and present, breaking through into the here and now.
And it is in this sense that Christ sets us free in the day to day.  As we long for and walk towards our assured future life with God, where we will know complete freedom, so we are freed from the things that ensnare and bind us now.  The freedom that we can know in the present is a foretaste of the freedom that we will fully know in eternity. 
Jesus demonstrated this ministry of bringing freedom in numerous ways,   perhaps most strikingly in his healing miracles, which testified to God’s concern for the here and now, and spoke of the time which is coming.
But there were other ways too.  In forgiving the woman caught in adultery Jesus freed her from her sin (and sent her out to change her ways) and freed her from the condemnation of her community.
In forgiving Simon-Peter Jesus freed him from the burden of his actions and freed him from guilt and regret. 
“I have come to set the captives free…”
This session is really less about discussion and more about actively praying for the thing we’re talking about.  It’s no use talking about freedom, discussing it’s merits, saying how nice it would be, and then doing nothing about it!  That would be mad.
So, instead of discussing freedom I’d like to invite you to pray for freedom for one-another. 
Every Christian that I have met has on an ongoing basis needed to know the freedom that Christ brings.  Freedom from big things, small things, and medium sized things.  Freedom from common things (anger), less usual things (fear of upsetting others), socially acceptable things (acquisitiveness) and embarrassing things (lust)… the list goes on. 
Spend some time praying for particular things that your group members need to be freed from.

It’s scary and means being very open and honest, but if we can’t be open and honest with each other how will we ever minister the love of God to one-another!

It might be that there are some particular struggles that members of the group would like to share with the Pastoral Team and receive on-going prayer and support with.  If so please contact Sharon Seal on 01372 813200.  We can offer confidential prayer and listening, and if required refer to specialist organizations and counselors who may be able to help.
Writing to the Galatian Church Paul says “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”  - Although Paul had a very particular context in mind as he wrote these words, the truth of them stretches beyond his particular situation.  As Christians, freedom has been won for us, and so we can take hold of what is ours, living it now as much as possible, trusting that in the future it will be fully known.
Part of our witness is found in living out what we hold to be true.  Spend some time reflecting on your own life and the degree to which you live in the freedom that has been won for you.  How might this witness to others?
Jesus often spoke prophetically to people.  The woman at the well for example.  In this situation Jesus identified something in the womans life, saw her need, and then spoke words of hope and freedom to her. 
It might be that you have an opportunity to speak prophetically into the life of someone you know.  Perhaps you know them and their situation well and can speak Gods words of hope and freedom into their situation.  Perhaps it’s someone you don’t know well but sense that God may be giving you a particular insight into their situation so that you can speak words of hope and freedom to them. 
Regardless as to the situation, step out in faith this week.  Speak Christ’s message of freedom and release to someone you know who is longing for this very thing.  Speak sensitively, warmly, and boldly, and ask the Lord to work…
If, having spoken to someone this week they are keen to explore the Christian faith for themselves then don’t forget:
Our next Welcome Evening is on January 16th and is an ideal event for those who are looking to get involved with Church after a time away, those who are new to the area, or new to church.  The evening includes a meal, a chance to meet the senior staff team, and an brief talk about the priorities and structure of St Giles’ and St George. 
 For more information or to book a place please email:
Alpha begins on January 23rd and is a 10 week course exploring the basics of Christian faith.  The evening includes a meal, a short talk, and an opportunity to discuss and ask questions in a non-pressurized environment. 
 For more information or to book a place please email:

Simon Butler, 20/11/2012