Celebrating the Lord’s Day first, then fireworks
Here’s what I wrote for our weekly parish email newsletter this week. It explains why we’re not celebrating Independence Day on Sunday morning, even though it’s July 4. In an earlier post, I had a few things to say about the cross versus the flag. All that said, tomorrow after church I’ll be celebrating the birthday of the US with friends, food, and fireworks.
This Sunday many people will probably focus more on cookouts and fireworks than on offering thanks to God. At Christ Church, we’ll gather as we do every Sunday to feast on God’s presence in Word and sacrament.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with fireworks and cookouts. But we Christians should make sure that we have our priority straight: God comes before everything else. Period. While we are celebrating the birth of our nation, we would do well to put God in the center. How might we do that?
- We should give thanks to God for all the blessings of our lives. All that we have is a gift from God, not the result of our own labor.
- We should pray for our nation’s leaders — and all voters — that we might be guided to bring justice and dignity to all people.
- We should pray that we might continue to grow as a nation, celebrating our strengths and also admitting our need to improve.
- We should pray that our nation might be a beacon of hope to all nations, and that we might be worthy of that vocation.
So here’s an idea for this Sunday. Come to church in the morning. Remember what it’s all about. Then fire up the grill and get ready to watch the fireworks. Maybe it would be good to offer a prayer before chowing down on burgers & hot dogs. This is a pretty good one:
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Happy Independence Day weekend! And, even more important, I hope to see you on Sunday as we gather to celebrate the Lord’s Day!