This weekend, we celebrate the Fourth of July – the date of our nation’s independence from Britain. Within that celebration, we are reminded of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. We will have the opportunity to hear speeches from elected officials and to reflect on the ways that our country has the makings of something truly wonderful. I say makings because we still have work to do when it comes to living into the full vision of what is laid out in the founding documents of our nation. In particular, we might want to reflect on the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is meet and right that we would celebrate the founding of our nation, but I also hope that we can use our celebrations as a time to reflect on the ways that we could go further in pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all within our borders. I would hope that our celebrations are moments for us to collect ourselves as a nation to ask how we might be able to do more for our neighbor – the one that lives across the street and the one that lives in the opposite corner of the nation. I would hope that our celebrations are moments of reminders that there is still work to be done in this great experiment called The United States of America and that there are plenty of people in our nation who do not feel that they are seen as equally created.
We do live in a great country with the opportunity to do amazing things in the world, but we are also invited to remember that those great things need to be a reflection of God’s love in the world. The way that we pursue happiness, practice liberty, and celebrate life is to be a reflection of the radical nature of God’s love. We are called to practice those unalienable rights in a way that does no harm to another and in a way that allows the other the sure footing needed in order to pursue, practice, and celebrate just as freely.
Let us pray.
“Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Collect for The Nation, Book of Common Prayer, p. 258)