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Advent 2018 – Saturday, December 8


It was Christmas morning, 1960. I awoke to the smells of baking pies, cinnamon, roasting turkey, and the fresh scent of the newly-cut pine tree in the living room. I jumped out of bed, excited to see what Santa had brought and, there to my overwhelming delight, was a BRAND NEW, GLEAMING RED FREEDOM FLYER BICYCLE, with my name on it!!!

In the joy of that moment, I didn’t have any idea as to the many ways in which that oversized Freedom Flyer would literally transform my life. No longer would I be confined to my ten block neighborhood in southeast Denver; I would now have the freedom to ride like the wind, wherever whim would take me. My favorite destination was to ride to Washington Park, five miles away, to hang-out, fishing with my buddies.

On that magical morning, I couldn’t have imagined the freedom and joy bicycling would bring, as I chased my friends through the warm Denver nights with no lights and no helmet. I also couldn’t possibly see how a future tandem bicycle would serve as a date-machine, giving my wife and me needed respite and exercise when our children were young. And I had no idea that my rides would someday be in the hundreds of miles and that a large part of my identity would include being a cyclist. Never being much of an athlete in ball-oriented sports, the spin of the bike pedals as I churned up the mountains was something I could excel at. In short, cycling provided me freedom and a different way of seeing the world and myself.

As I reflect on my eighth Christmas and the freedom and joy which that gift gave, I am reminded of an infinitely greater Gift received by the whole world on that first Christmas morning. This Gift was wrapped in the unlikeliest of forms, that of a human baby boy, Jesus. He was born and lived to transform our lives, to show us the true meaning of freedom and joy. To change our limited perspective bound by geography and time, to become the glorious, loving, compassionate and committed individuals God intended us to be. As Søren Kierkegaard put it “Now with God’s help, I will become myself.” With Christ’s help, we are no longer confined to our neighborhood or bound by our old way of living self-centered lives.

With Christ in the center of our lives, he promises to heal our hurts and mend our brokenness so that we may become the masterpieces he intended us to be. We need to understand and appreciate how uniquely wonderful each of us is, if we are to play our part in God’s plan to bring his more peaceful, verdant and just Kingdom to earth. With Christ, we have the freedom to lose the shackles of our self-imposed and self-centered limitations, to find our wings and to become the glorious individuals God intended us to be. Embracing and living into this truth is even more exciting than finding a Freedom Flyer with your name on it in the living room on Christmas morning. Jesus is the greatest Gift of all!

Steve Hill, elder