On 4th July we mark the more obvious beginnings of freedom in and for this nation. We call it Independence Day, and most of us break our normal routines to engage in conversation, in eating and drinking, in relaxing.
Of course, not everyone has the day off. If some were not working we would not have electricity, or gas, or propane, to light our homes, to run appliances, to fire up our grills. If there were not people staffing grocery stores we might not be able to buy the items we forgot, or didn’t have time, to get during the first part of the week. Public transportation – buses, trains, planes – runs pretty much as scheduled, guided by people who work through days and nights. And many have to work simply to make ends meet, to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads.
There’s a phrase in one of the prayers of intercession in the Office of Compline:
O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We celebrate this first weekend of July not individualism, but the fact that, working together, we have been able to accomplish great things, and we have a great future – if we work together, together with one another and together with God.
Worship does NOT stop because of this or any other holiday. In fact, it should be imbedded at the heart of this and every day. We give thanks for all the ways in which our lives have been enriched and blessed and God assures us that we are loved and appreciated.
Yet not all feel this love and appreciation. We HAVE begun lives of independence, but we are far from completing them, and many still live lives that are not free. So we must remain alert, to respond to any situations where we see people being oppressed, abused, deprived of the liberties which are their rights as children of God, our brothers and sisters.
Independence Day calls us to be watchful for the sake of others, just as our ancestors were watchful for those who could not fight for themselves, and were inhibited from being able to speak out on their own behalf. We are not yet free until all are free.
Let us celebrate, then! We are on our way!
There will be special liturgies over the first weekend of July.
- Independence Day: Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (the one in use at the time of the Revolution)
- The Sunday closest to Independence Day: a special liturgy incorporating readings from historic writings of the United States, and the celebration of Holy Eucharist.
For the Nation (Book of Common Prayer, page 258)
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.
For our Country (Book of Common Prayer, page 820)
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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