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,