73This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
  74to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
 free to worship you without fear,
  75holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life.
76And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
  for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
77to give God’s people knowledge of salvation
  by the forgiveness of their sins.
78In the tender compassion of our God
  the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
79to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  and to guide our feet into the way of peace. –Luke 1:73-79

Who is my enemy? When I was growing up, my enemy was anyone who was not part of my in-group. In school there are castes, just like in life. There are the athletes, the smart ones, the outsiders, the band/choir crowd, and others. And each one of them had an unwritten rule: watch out for the other because they will cause you trouble.

Of course, I’m being intentionally benign in my descriptions for the sake of unity because most of us know that, in reality, things were never that polite. In some cases, even violence could be the result of this division.

When Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit to prophesy about his new-born son, he speaks a word of hope for us all. “This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
  to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
 free to worship you without fear,
  holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life.”

Being able to worship without fear, being able to live your life without the dominant power placing restrictions on you is the promise I want you to hear today. John the Baptist would go on to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sin.

Repentance—literally turning back to God—brings us to a place where we can see God again. It’s hard to see God when you’re facing the other way. When we turn back to God, acknowledging that we have turned away, God is there with open arms, ready to forgive and restore and protect and save us.

Our world is full of opportunities to take sides, oppose, and divide ourselves; and these things have become the enemies that hold us down. But God is calling us back—back into God’s presence and back into wholeness as a community. This week, seek how you might reunite with and heal a damaged or broken relationship, and allow that to free your mind and spirit to worship in freedom once again.