Tomorrow we will celebrate the Independence of this great nation from Britain.
This momentous event which shaped the colonies and thus this new nation, actually began on July 2, 1776, with a letter to Britain’s King George to explain why the Continental Congress voted to declare America’s independence.
The cause for their decision? They were tired of being under burdensome taxation practices that funded a country across the ocean that they never saw any benefit from.
The recognition of this date as an official holiday was not granted by Congress until 1870, nearly 100 years later.
Today, more than 15,000 separate Fourth of July celebrations occur each year. Parades, fireworks, food.
What I really want to talk about though is one of the first flags flown under this newly Independent nation.
I realize some abhor this flag as a reminder of a time when people were held as slaves.
However, I would like to submit the following fact:
The symbolism intended by this first flag is actually very beautiful. The stars representing the 13 colonies were set in a circle to represent them all being equal.
No one less than. No one more than. On even ground, together, striving for a freedom that would bring peace, comfort and security in this new world they were forging together.
My heart yearns for this to be our desire today. For us to move in unity, with one accord and purpose.
Alas, we are not capable of it though. Not on our own. Real freedom only comes through a trusting in God.
When Jesus began his ministry on Earth one of the first places he spoke was in the temple and it was from the scriptures written by the prophet Isaiah from years before…telling of Jesus himself.
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Jesus came to give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us to experience eternal freedom. Not temporal. Permanent. Unshakable. Never-ending.
What can you do to show this kind of freedom to those you encounter this Fourth of July? How can you point them to this absolutely free gift for which no price is required?
Well, no price from them anyway, because Jesus paid it already.
What a change we could see in our own communities if we spent more time working with one another for equality, spending more time finding the similarities among us, rather than being so hot-headed and self-righteous to point out the differences.
Loving your neighbor as yourself, placing others interests ahead of yours. Aiding those who are hurting and helpless. Our founding fathers (and brothers, sisters, mothers, wives, etc.) did this. Can we not at least try?
America the beautiful, indeed.