Roddy Edmonds grew up in the south part of Knoxville and graduated from Knoxville High in 1938. He enlisted in the Army in 1941 as the US entered the second World War and rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. During the last major German offensive, known as the Battle of the Bulge, he was captured and sent to a prison camp on December 19, 1944.
By the following January, German leaders realized the war was lost and took desperate measures. Master Sergeant Edmonds was the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer in his prison camp and was responsible for the 1,275 American POWs. On January 27, 1945 the German Commandant ordered Edmonds to command all the Jewish-American soldiers to present themselves to be separate from the other prisoners. Instead, Sergeant Edmonds ordered all 1,275 men to assemble.
The camp commander was enraged. He placed a pistol to Roddy Edmond’s head and demanded that he identify all the Jewish soldiers. Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews here,” and explained that to shoot the Jews, he would have to shoot all the prisoners, resulting in prosecution for war crimes once the war ended. About 200 Jewish Americans were saved by Edmond’s courageous action, and the camp was soon liberated.
We sometimes reduce high ideals like freedom to mean nothing more than an opportunity to live with a “me-first,” self-seeking attitude. Sergeant Edmonds not only fought for freedom but found a way to live free by making a choice, even when he was a prisoner. That’s the freedom we celebrate on the 4th of July, and that same freedom of the spirit reveals truth about the spiritual freedom we receive from Jesus.
We don’t live in a prison camp, but we live with all kinds of limitations. However, in Jesus we enjoy a deep sense of freedom that can’t be contained by external constraints. This freedom leads us to serve rather than become self-seeking and to love when others hate. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV
P.S. If you missed this weekend’s service, we began a new series exploring the five most recently read and shared verses from the Bible. Catch up here
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