Faith and the 4th of July
Religion and politics, ick.
The two things you’re never supposed to bring up at a dinner party and here they are on the blog this month.
I struggle with these issues a lot, but I figure that this week, I’ll talk about a struggle I have every year about this time: What’s the Christian response to Independence Day?
I’ll be more specific:
How do we show pride in being an American without disparaging citizens of other countries?
How do we thank and acknowledge those who have served in the military without glorifying violence?
How do we thank God for the blessings bestowed upon our country in our worship services without turning our country and flag into a false idol?
And lastly, how do celebrate our independence as a country while acknowledging that on July 4, 1776 the freedom and democracy we are celebrating extended to only white, male property owners?
I am comforted that since Christians struggle with everything else, theological questions about a holiday don’t seem so strange.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10)
Trying to be a child of the light, a child of God, is a constant call to reflection and action.
Even when we don’t have answers and have to go with our guts, we are still in loving relationship with God.
Now of course if I was a really great blogger, I’d have proposals for each of those Independence Day quandaries. But I’ve got nothing. Instead I can tell you what I did celebrate this 4th of July.
I celebrate that I live in a country where I am allowed to vote and that my vote carries equal weight as the person next to me.
I celebrate that my country is not under occupation or engaged in violent civil war.
I celebrate that the people I love who have served/are serving in our military are healthy and without injury of body or mind, and I say a special prayer for those who are not.
I celebrate that the way I worship God is not forced upon me by government and is protected by our Constitution and that my friends of other traditions, religions, and backgrounds are offered the same protection.
Most of all I celebrate that I can take one day and spend it in fellowship with my friends and loved ones eating good barbeque, pounds of potato salad, and festive red, white, and blue deserts. Because sometimes we just need to take a break and celebrate what we have.
For our country, O God, I am so thankful.
For our immigrant ancestors who came here across an ocean that seemed so wide; for their years of struggle against obstacles that I have never faced; for the sacrifices of others who built our country and defended it against all the things that would go wrong; for opportunities in my own lifetime to do something that would really make a difference; for a place in which to raise a family, to seek to do well in my job, to worship you in freedom, and to cherish the hopes and dreams for the years ahead - I am, O God, deeply thankful.
— Ministry Matters “Moments with God - July 4th”