This coming Monday is Independence Day which is celebrated annually on July 4. The Fourth of July is the day that we remember the founding of our nation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence which was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Second Continental Congress declared that the Thirteen Colonies were no longer subject to the England, but were now united, free, and independent states.
Today, just as in 1776 we continue wrestle with what it means to be a country composed of united, free, and independent states. We are still struggling, together, for the freedom and rights of all people, because we believe that all people “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Fourth of July is a day we remember not only the triumph of freedom over tyranny, but the continuing responsibility of living as a free and self-governing people. Freedom always requires responsibility. Freedom must always be protected and our commitment to freedom for all people must be continually renewed.
This Sunday, as we gather for worship, we will sing hymns of praise to God for God’s blessing on us and on our country, and we will have time to remember the blessings of freedom and the responsibilities we have as citizens.
But that is not all we will do…
We will gather around the baptismal font to witness the baptism of Ezra Davis and remember our own baptism. This moment should serve as a reminder that freedom in Christ requires us to live faithfully and responsibly in the world, to continually struggle and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our time at the font should inspire us to live into our baptismal vows, “to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin, and to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
We will also gather around the communion table to remember that not only are we a freed people in Christ, but a sent people. A people who are called in this nation, in this community, to “be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.” Our time at the table reminds us again of what Christ has done for us through his suffering, death and resurrection, but also commissions us to be a transformative community of faith where Christ is truly present.
May we remember well in these days the freedom that we have received in Christ and our responsibility to live as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. May we also remember the freedom that has been and continues to be won for the people of this nation, and our responsibility to safeguard freedom for all.
God bless America and God bless us all,
For Jesus. For People. For Community.