In 1843, a twenty-one-year old Massachusetts scholar was doing research on the American Revolution and what led up to it. Among those he interviewed was Captain Levi Preston, a Yankee who was seventy years his senior and had fought at both Lexington and Concord.
“Captain Preston,” the young man began, “what made you go to the Concord Fight on April 19, 1775?”
“What did I go for?” The old soldier, every bit his ninety-one years, was very bowed, so he raised himself to his full height, taken aback that anyone should ask a question about anything so obvious.
The young man tried again. “Yes, my histories tell me that you men of the Revolution took up arms against ‘intolerable oppressions.’ What were they?”
“Oppressions? I didn’t feel them.”
“What, you were not oppressed by the Stamp Act?”
“I never saw one of those stamps,” Captain Preston replied. “I certainly never paid a penny for them.”
“Well, what about the tea tax?”
“Tea tax? I never drank a drop of the stuff,” the old veteran replied. “The boys threw it all overboard.”
“Then I suppose you had been reading Harrington, or Sidney and Locke about the eternal principles of liberty?”
“Never heard of ’em,” Captain Preston said. “We read only the Bible, the Catechism, Watt’s Psalms and the Almanac.”
“Well then, what was the matter? And what did you mean in going to fight?”
“Young man,” Captain Preston stated firmly, “what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: We always had been free, and we meant to be free always. They didn’t mean we should.”
~A Free People's Suicide | Os Guinness
The above quote was read aloud for faculty and staff gathering in prayer Wednesday. With birds chirping in trees casting shade over Dawn Synstelien's chicken coop staff sat huddling around a simple story that is part of many real world examples finding their way into Hillcrest's 2016-17 school theme.
The theme narrative started last week as staff gathered in the Union conference room to deliberate issues that are facing students and staff. Pulling out examples from the classroom a common theme emerging was freedom. However, many staff repeated a phrase that freedom in Christ is really a freedom that is not earned. The staff continually ended comments with the word done.
Living in the light of the cross, Hillcrest staff are excited to communicate a reality to students. This reality is that their freedom is only given them by Christ. It is a reality that Captain Preston knew. His words, "we had always been free," refers to a self-evident truth. The Declaration of Independence hinged on this reality. That the simple truths of freedom are self-evident, and mankind is endowed with freedom by the creator that leaves all men created equal to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
The devotional before the prayer referenced the freedom given Adam and Eve in the garden. Their freedom was not earned. It was not fought for, stained with the blood of soldiers. Freedom comes from God.
However, a bondage set in. The bondage came from Satan in the form of shackles that man could know things apart from God. This work to know good and evil without referencing God's definition placed Adam and Eve into bondage. Their freedom was stripped.
The devotional shifted to reference the book Leviticus, highlighting the 10 Commandments in Exodus, where laws are emphasized to show God's order. Unfettered freedom is slavery to live a life void of God, and the consequences destroy man, relationships, and God's intended purpose for man to have relationship with his Creator.
Ultimately, the devotional rested in Jesus. Jesus is the defender of freedom. His work on the cross, spilling blood for all of mankind in defense of freedom, granted the world a true path to relationship with God and wholeness in a freedom that liberates man to an intimate relationship with God.
The devotional closed with Galatians 5:1. As the words were read aloud there was a simple peace that came into Dawn's sunporch. Staff nodded in agreement when it was declared that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. There was a soft sigh, some uttering a gentle grunt, when the command to avoid the yoke of slavery was given. The devotional sparked a 30 minute focused prayer time for the faculty and staff, some 11 adults and spouses, gathered to declare Jesus Christ the Lord of the school year. Their bowed heads stood as a reference to their vocal commitment.
A creative team is continuing to develop the theme. Progress will post to Hillcrest blogs throughout the summer as faculty and staff commit to joining together every two weeks for prayer.