The Pulse: The Caged Bird

In late August 1619, a pirate ship dropped anchor of Point Comfort, Virginia, where more than twenty Africans were sold for food. These people had been war prisoners from conflict between Portugal and kingdoms in Angola, then shipped off toward Mexico. The English pirate ship intercepted them, raided the Portuguese slave ship, and rather than freeing those prisoners, sold them to Virginia planters and landholders. This moment became a terrible turning point that boosted the traffic of human beings with more than twelve million Africans being forced into a similar route to slavery over the next two centuries.

It’s impossible for us to imagine how this small group of people felt… torn from their homes, survivors of a harrowing journey, hopeful of a potential rescue, treated as property, and finally trapped in a system of slavery. At least some of that emotion was captured almost three hundred years later by one of America’s greatest poets, the son of freed slaves, Paul Laurence Dunbar:

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me…
When he beats his bars and he would be free,
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings!

Jesus came to free us from the guilt, the shame, and the power of the habits, desires, and systems that create bondage. It’s all too natural for us to drift away from that freedom back to the familiar security of our cages. That’s why the Apostle Paul reminds us, “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). We have received the free gift of life that we can share with others. Let’s keep standing strong in that freedom!
P.S. We’re so excited that Brad Robertson has joined our team as the adult ministry pastor. You will get a chance to meet him in person in a few weeks, but can get to know him and his wife Becky right now through this blog. Be sure to welcome them to our community.

Titus O’Bryant
Teaching & Executive Pastor of Ministries