The Fourth of July is one of our most beloved national holidays. The images that come to mind of family picnics, fireworks, and the flag waving proudly in the summer breeze fill us with awe and we are inspired. We remember the victory of our freedoms won on the battlefield and pause to reflect on what that means to us as a nation. We recite portions of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution like the beautiful pieces of poetry they are – and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Kennedy’s Inaugural Address bring tears to our eyes as only truly inspired works can do. Independence Day for any American is a feast for the spirit, a respite for the soul.
Every summer, we celebrate our national freedom with joy; it is the high point of the season for Americans. As Christians, we also recall the personal and spiritual freedom won for us on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ. His earthly ministry and loving sacrifice on the cross are the greatest gifts any of us has ever received. These gifts are free to us because Jesus himself paid the price, gracing us with his spirit. We read of his love in the scriptures and are uplifted: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Corinthians 3:17)
This July Fourth, as we sing of freedoms cherished and thrill at the sight of brilliant displays of fireworks against the night sky, let us raise our voices in thanksgiving to our Lord. As we watch the wonder on the faces of children and adults alike, let us feel a renewal in our patriotism and our faith. Jesus did not leave us on the battlefield, nor did he sleep while we debated and voted and came together as a nation. As different as we are as individuals, we are collectively a country. In this time of economic and social struggle, may we remember our brotherhood over the things that divide us – and may our faith shine as the stars on Old Glory. Long may she wave!