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Summary: A priceless gift - a blessing that we often take for granted and do not realize how much we would grieve if we lost it - is Freedom of Worship, as a nation and as an individual. Therefore, exercise it!

FOUR GREAT FREEDOMS IN CHRIST SERMON III: FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

Did you ever lose something that meant a lot to you and you never really appreciated how much it meant to you until you lost it? I suppose every one of us at one time or another has lost, for example, a precious gift – the gift of a child . . . spouse . . . sentimental piece of jewelry.

A few years ago, I noticed that my wedding band, placed on my hand by my wife fifty years ago, was missing. There was a whitish indention in the form of a circle on my ring finger. Gone . . . vanished . . . nowhere to be found. I literally got on my hands and knees and crawled into our dog house where I had the day before replenished a bed of cedar shavings.

It occurred to me that, perhaps as I had cupped my hands and reached down into the bag of cedar chips and then spread them in Bubba’s dwelling, the ring probably slipped off my finger. Chip by chip, I went through every square inch of cedar shavings, but no luck. To this day I am sure that Bubba must have swallowed that shiny gold ring! And I’ve been in the “dog house” ever since!

Not really. I suffered more than my wife did – and guess what she did. On our golden wedding anniversary, she presented me with a new ring – one that cost more than ten times the price of the original ring a half century ago.

There is no value, though, that can be placed on the sentimentality of the ring that I lost. That first ring was a priceless gift from my beloved wife!

Today I’m thinking of another gift that is priceless – one that we often take for granted and do not realize how much we would grieve if we lost it – the freedom of worship that is ours as residents of the USA. Yet, there is a higher level of this freedom that we would do well to never forget.

Most of us grew up in America in days long ago when going to church was “the thing to do” on Sundays. We were taught “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” In my house, mama didn’t allow us to do anything that could in any way be construed as profaning the Christian Sabbath – which of course is Sunday.

Where I grew up, playing cards on Sunday, going to the “picture show” or engaging in any kind of sports was frowned upon. Nowadays, about all folks do is come up with something to “do” on Sunday. Me? I love to watch sports on television on Sunday afternoon. Back then I suspect TV sports on the “Lord’s Day” would not have been tolerated.

We certainly did not “eat out” on Sundays unless it was at the home of a relative or friend. Nor were we able to shop on Sundays because all stores were closed. Today Sunday is one of our economy’s biggest buying days.

With all that we were not allowed to do in what some folks call the “good old days” of our youth, there was only one thing that everybody was encouraged, yea, expected to do, and that was, to go to Church.

Church in those days was the place to go for fellowship, if not Bible study and worship. A lot of guys met their future wives in church. In fact, to meet girls is precisely the reason why some of our number even went inside a church building. And, yes, we did have some great times at “Socials” sponsored by churches. It was quite an honor to serve as “Social Chairman” of a Sunday School Class or a youth fellowship group.

Our young people’s group back then even had our own “fellowship hour” following the evening worship service. We would sing a lot and give testimonies and just have a good time meeting together as a youth group. But I can tell you that the thing we looked forward to every Sunday night was going to the Cactus Grill after the fellowship that was after the worship service – and what a time we had eating hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and onion rings.

Folks, as young people, we could grow up that way and today still have the chance to engage in those kinds of activities sponsored by churches – whether on the “Lord’s Day” or any day of the week – for one reason, and one reason only - and that is, our forbears fought and even died to preserve freedom of worship in this country!

This freedom was the most compelling motivation for the founding fathers to come to this new world in the first place. We must never lose sight of the price that was paid for our freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience.

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