Get your picnic baskets ready! Don’t forget the sparklers! It’s the Fourth of July! But wait . . . It’s Sunday, too? Yes it is, friends. This year the Fourth falls on a Sunday, and I think it is very appropriate to worship before we go on our picnics and family gatherings. Oh, I know, you only get so many weekends off and want to spend time at the lake. Well, why not take a break from your lakeside activities and join your brothers and sisters at church as we celebrate our country’s independence.
Over 234 years ago, men of faith and conscience gathered to discuss the possibility of a country ruled by the people, a country whose people were not limited by lineage, whose people could choose how they would worship, who could determine their own futures. These men believed that, quite possibly, the people of the colonies could be united for this specific purpose.
This weekend we will celebrate the results of that gathering, the Declaration of Independence, a document that declares, “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.”
The movement today is to minimize the involvement of faith in the founding of this country of ours, and yet, even the constitution speaks of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” There were men from many spectrums of faith, but in the writings by many of these men, a common thread appears, that of trust in and reliance on God.
When you celebrate the Fourth this weekend, I hope you will take a moment to remind your children what we are celebrating. Although we will have fireworks, we are not celebrating pretty lights in the sky. And although we will have music, we are not celebrating the skills of those who play instruments to entertain us. We are celebrating the birth of a country where for over 200 years we have enjoyed freedom.
Celebrate the United States of America! Fly your flag and shoot off your rockets and firecrackers! But please remember to take a moment to give thanks for the blessings we have received because of the Fourth of July, because of the men and women who risked their lives and livelihoods to bring this Union into existence. And take a moment to thank the God who has made all this possible.
We are citizens of a great country, and as such, we are required, by God, as long as we are here, to be faithful citizens, to uphold the ideals of freedom and to pray for our leaders. As Christians, we are also responsible to our first citizenship, that of the kingdom of God.
As a citizen of the U.S.A., I am called to vote my own ideals and to participate in government.
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I am called to vote and participate in the government as I am able, lifting up the ideals of faith and the truths of God.
As a citizen of the U.S.A., I have the right to “Life” and “Liberty.”
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I have the privilege to receive life from God, to find happiness, joy, and peace through my relationship with God, from whom I have received liberty from my sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Because of these great blessings, I am called to serve as an ambassador to this world, letting others know about the freedom offered to them, as well.
As a citizen of the U.S.A., I have the right to the “pursuit of Happiness.”
As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I have the responsibility to discern the difference between happiness for the moment and true joy that comes from knowing God. I am commanded to maintain the priorities of the gospel so that my life will be an example to those with whom I live and influence.
How will you celebrate the Fourth? I hope you will take some time to truly give thanks to God for the blessings you have received from God’s hand. Go to church this Sunday. Come casual so you can get to your picnic right away, but first take time to celebrate true freedom, the freedom from sin.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor