Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How blessed we are ...

     Today we celebrate the 236th birthday of this great nation, the United States of America.  On this date in 1776, the Continental Congress passed the resolution put forward on July 2nd and finally signed in August of that year.  It declared our independence from England and established our freedom rooted in dignity and the rights given to us by God to govern ourselves.  Not that England was that bad, but they were far away, and did not understand their colony and the reasons why so many over the course of years fled Europe.  The founding fathers took great risks in that Declaration, and embarked upon the grand experiment of setting up a democratic republic.

     The greatness and beauty of this nation and of this bold experiment was feared by some and envied by many.  We were a land blessed by God.  We were seen as an image of another people who found themselves in a good land (Egypt) but in situations that were more and more restrictive.  Their exodus from bondage to freedom was guided by God and led them to the Promised Land - a land flowing with milk and honey.  It was not an easy journey, and there were failures along the way, but they finally arrived.  Yet even then there were moments where their glory was dimmed, where their sinfulness needed to be repented of, and where they needed to trust God anew.  God never abandoned those who remembered him and served him.

     This land was given to us.  It was already occupied by others, whom we feared and did not always respect.  It was a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of promise, a pledge of a covenant with a God who had gifted us with rights and responsibilities.  The establishment of this nation was not easy.  There have been and continue to be many failures in these last 236 years.  Our greatness is strong, but tarnished and even threatened (not always from outside but also from within).  May we resolve on this Independence Day to first thank God and then to pledge to ourselves and to the world community, which still looks to us for inspiration and help, that we will continue to become a light of truth, freedom and justice in a challenged world.

     The second Collect prayer for Independence Day from the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal prays this:

Father of all nations and ages,
we recall the day when our country
claimed its place among the family of nations;
for what has been achieved we give you thanks,
for the work that still remains we ask your help,
and as you have called us from many peoples
to be one nation,
grant that, under your providence,
our country may share your blessings
with all the peoples of the earth.


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