July, and the 244th anniversary of the founding of our country, the United States of America, From the beginning, we were an experiment in democracy. However, only wealthy, white men with property were eligible to vote at first, many of whom owned slaves, including the author of the Declaration of Independence and the First President. It is one of the greatest disconnects in the history of humanity. Those who argued, wrote, supported, fought and were willing to face prison, injury, loss and death for freedom, liberty and the representative government denied that for which they pledged their lives to everyone else: women, Native Americans, the poorest and people of color.
In all honesty, July 4th has always been a conflicted holiday for me. As a child, I enjoyed family picnics and community fireworks. I have always loved my country and been thankful to be born an American And yet, knowledge of our history and awareness of where we still fall short of national ideals causes me to pause.
As one raised in the Christian tradition and committed to the ways of Jesus, I am aided by biblical prophets. They both cared deeply for their nation and people, and criticized it passionately when not living up to its covenant to love God, practice mercy and do justice. I do give thanks for America, or that part of America that was the underground railroad; preserved the union and ended slavery; claimed women’s right to vote, secured democracy for the world and civil rights at home, cured polio, sent humans to the moon, and helped bring down the Berlin Wall.
I am saddened, dismayed and angered however, by the part of America that puts greed above generosity, profit ahead of Earth’s preservation, and rationalizes exploitation, bigotry and denial of basic human rights to others, often in the name of God and country.
America is my home; Americans my fellow citizens. Our experiment in democracy continually needs rework-ing until we truly live up to our ideals. The same thing is true about the Christian church. It continually needs renewal and reformation until we obtain the mind of Christ. Both are ideals that should drive our passions and influence our faith and politics.
Let us pledge to pray, work and support current efforts to help create a more perfect union. And may the Spirit of Christ enlighten us to wherever we may be holding up the progress.
Remain safe, stay connected, be well, and continue to make a difference.