Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

Today is Independence Day when we celebrate our freedom from tyranny. Unfortunately, we can take advantage of others in the name of our freedoms. We can be selfish and greedy in the name of personal freedom.

I am a long way from my family today. On the other side of the country, in a little beach town, my 90 year old mother hosts hundreds of people on her lawn every year. The bicycle parade, in which 500 plus people participate, ends on our front lawn. My Cherokee mother is a patriot and a warrior woman, like many Cherokee women, she cherishes and defends her family. And she also seeks to welcome and care for the community, demonstrating God's love and freedom right from her front lawn. She knows that hospitality and welcome are her way of honoring those who have come before. I miss helping her and watching her delight in the neighbors and strangers who gather for a few minutes to honor true freedom. Our little Episcopal Church, St. Peter's by the Sea, Cape May Point, rings the bell every year as the riders pass by, announcing God's blessings and the prayers of the people.

Today I ask God to help me celebrate our heritage by honoring our neighbors, strangers and friends alike. May we live lives of welcome and hospitality, making room for outsiders and those who are different from us. May we never assume our freedoms give us rights to bully or take advantage of others, and may God find us always praying for all the people everywhere in our time.

Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


mgdoolin said...

The truest celebrations are heartfelt, not flashy.

Mike Plunkett said...

God bless you Carol. This really touched me. Can't wait to see you all in August.- Mike P.