Posted by: morgan1965 | July 3, 2010

The Sabbath Day & Independence Day

The Fourth of July 2010 falls on a Sunday, so we will observe the Sabbath Day and Independence Day. The Sabbath Day provides an opportunity for pilgrim disciples to celebrate their freedom in Jesus Christ, while Independence Day is an occasion when Americans celebrate our democratic freedoms.

This concurrence of celebrations has caused me to ponder anew the meaning of the Fourth of July and to inquire about any theological significance. Let me share a few ponderings.

I am reminded of the national anthem that conjures up a variety of feelings each time that I hear it sung, usually at public gatherings. The first verse is very familiar and is the verse that is generally sung at public events.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight’
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The focus in this verse is the flag, the “star spangled banner.” After a night of warfare, the flag is still waving in the morning breeze. The verse touts the virtue of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The author, Francis Scott Key has a deeper insight that is revealed in verse four.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

He declares that we have a motto: “In God is our trust.” This trust is couched in the belief that there is a “Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.” That “Power” is God.

Who is this God? What shall we say about this God? Well, there is much that can be said about our God, depending on one’s perspective. James Weldon Johnson provides an African American perspective in his hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Today, we celebrate liberty for all of God’s people, regardless of their origin. America is the land of the free, and we find new freedom in Jesus Christ.

If you want to discern some more theological insights regarding church and state, you might consider the paradox posed by Romans 13 and Revelation 13.

Think about it!

In the meantime, Shalom and Happy Fourth of July.

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