In the Book of Common Prayer, one of the prayers said every day in the morning contains a paradox. In it, we tell God that “his service” (i.e. serving him) “is perfect freedom.” At first glance, it seems like a contradiction. We tend to think of freedom in terms of doing what we want, not in doing what someone else wants!

But the paradox is a biblical one, which we see in Zechariah’s song in our reading today (Luke 1:57-80). On the one hand, Zechariah praises God because he has “visited his people and set them free” (v68). On the other, he has rescued them so they are “free to serve him without fear” (v74).

Serving God is perfect freedom because we were made to live in loving relationship with him and to reflect his glory to one another. Just as God gives himself to us in his grace, so we can never truly find freedom until we give ourselves to him and to one another in love and service. When we do that we find that the path of service is also, as Zechariah says, ‘the path of peace’. (v79)


A Prayerbook Paradox

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