An Independent Word

Note: An Independent Word is the text of my Independence Day message for and with the people of Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, whom I serve as priest-in-charge, posted in July’s Epiphany Star, the parish monthly e-newsletter. I share it as a blog post in recognition of the many protest marches taking place today across the United States advocating for the reunification of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border…


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Independence Day is upon us. One of our great, perhaps our grandest (given that we celebrate the founding of the America we love) national holidays. Indeed, I consider it our national holy day.

The Independence Day Collect in our Book of Common Prayer reads:

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

On July 4, I invite us, each and all, to take a moment, perhaps several moments to reflect on this prayer, seeking to interpret anew how we, in our day and time, individually and communally, may live into its fullness.

Speaking always and only for myself, two things occur to me that will guide my coming meditations…

Foremost, our nation was established on the foundation of an ideal of freedom from tyranny and equality for all. In this, our American experience is an ongoing experiment; one always in search of its fulfillment.

Secondly, I write this because, in the beginning, when “the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for…”, there were many who were not numbered among “us.” Among these excluded folk, doubtless, were some of my ancestors who came to this land not by choice, but in chains. I recall this not in bitterness, but rather with an open-eyed honesty that compels me to look around today and to see others who may not be considered “us.” Who are they? Where are they? And how do I live, what do I do each day, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, to be an incarnation of God’s welcoming love?

Yours, always and in all ways,

2 thoughts on “An Independent Word

  1. I’m going to consider this homework Paul!! Who is not “US”? I’ll be much more aware!!!

    Our ancestors were excluded from so much… and though we too have been excluded at points in our lives we’ve had great careers and success…. it’s so painful for me to call myself an American these days as we are taking away the chance at the “American Dream” from so many people who could contribute a great deal to this country.

    When I travel around to my speaking engagements at memory care facilities and other health care facilities many of the workers are from more countries than I can name. My Mom’s own caregiver for the last 9 years is from Tanzania. I don’t know where we would have been without her love and care!! She usually goes home every other year to see Family but isn’t going this year because she’s afraid she won’t be allowed back in to the US. Since the 2016 election I have been trying to ge extra welcoming to those from other countries since so many others were being downright hateful. Even still I can still do more to be in Incarnation of God’s welcoming love!!

    Thank you for this!!

    Much love!


  2. Loretta, it is almost (I stress “almost”) beyond my understanding how a nation like America, built on the backs of immigrants and slaves, could become so xenophobic (and a nativism restricted to a particular color of skin). I write “almost” because, as a student of history, manifold, sadly, are the movements in nations and amongst peoples that essentially close the proverbial national door to “the other” so to protect those (and a chosen few among “those”) already on “the inside.” We are seeing a manifestation of that now in America; the irony of it, for me, is made more glaring, galling as we approach our annual holy day of the celebration of our country’s founding.

    I appreciate your conscious efforts to reach out to all you meet, especially those from other lands who, in their presence amongst us and labors for us strengthen and sustain our communal, national fabric. Bless you.


    Liked by 1 person

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