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.
The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
I will exalt you, O God my King, *
and bless your Name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you *
and praise your Name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
there is no end to his greatness.
One generation shall praise your works to another
and shall declare your power.
I will ponder the glorious splendor of your
and all your marvelous works.
They shall speak of the might of your wondrous
and I will tell of your greatness.
They shall publish the remembrance of your great
they shall sing of your righteous deeds.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is loving to everyone *
and his compassion is over all his works.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old-- and Sarah herself was barren-- because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Rev John C Powers
Sunday, July 2, 2017, St. Bede's, Westport
THIS IS A GREAT HOLIDAY IN OUR COUNTRY. NO SHOPPING EXCEPT FOR PICNIC ITEMS. NO GIFTS. JUST GRATITUDE FOR COUNTRY, ITS HISTORY, AND ITS PRINCIPLES AND FREEDOMS. AND IT IS NICE TO KNOW THAT OUR CHURCH CHOOSES PRAYERS, HYMNS AND SCRIPTURAL READINGS FOR TODAY. WE DON'T HAVE TO INVENT A SERVICE. IT IS PROVIDED. SO WE WORSHIP GOD AND FLY THE FLAG AND ARE PATRIOTS.
AND YET, THESE PROPERS AREN'T FLAG WAVING IN THAT NARROW SENSE. HEALTHY PATRIOTISM IS LOVE OF COUNTRY, BUT COMBINED WITH A CRITICAL SENSE WHEN WE ARE NOT LVING UP TO THE HIGH CALLING GOD AND COUNTRY SETS FOR US. AND GOD IS NOT AN AMERICAN, GOD IS THE GOD OF THE ENTIRE WORLD.
WE LISTENED TO THESE SCRIPTURES TODAY AND THEY ARE INSTRUCTIVE. DEUTERONOMY REMINDS US THAT GOD LOVES THE STRANGER IN OUR MIDST AND THAT WE ARE CALLED TO BE A HOSPITABLE PEOPLE. WE ARE A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS WHO COME HERE SEEING FREEDOM AND NEW OPPORTUNITY. MY GERMAN GRANDPARENTS ENDED UP IN OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN, AND MY OTHER GRANPARENTS WHO CAME FROM SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND WOUND UP IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA. ONE OF THEM WAS AN EPISCOPAL PRIEST WHO FLED WITH HIS PARISHIONERS INTO THE HILLS OF SOUTH CAROLINA TO AVOID THE UNION ARMY THAT WAS FAST APPROACHNG.
WE ALL HAVE STORIES, AND THE TAKE AWAY IS THAT OUR FOREBEARS STRUGGLED AND FOUND A HOME AND BUILT A NATION. I GREW UP IN A FAMILY WHO PLANTED ANNUAL VICTORY GARDENS TO HELP THE WWII EFFORT. WE CANNED ALL SUMMER AND DAILY WE FLATENED METAL CONTAINERS TO SAVE FOR THE WAR EFFORT. I CAN RECALL CAREFULLY REMOVING THE FOIL FROM A GUM WRAPPER TO TURN IN WITH THE METAL CANS. THERE WAS GAS RATIONING. WE ALL WERE IN THE WAR EFFORT TOGETHER. IT WAS PART OF WHO WE WERE TO KEEP THE NATION SAFE. MY MOTHER WAS A NEIGHBRHOOD AIR RAID WARDEN IN TULSA. IN A WAY, IT SEEMED A LITTLE SILLY, ENEMY AIRCRAFT BOMBING HERE IN OKLAHONMA, AND YET IT WAS POSSIBLE. IT HELPED US TO REMAIN ALERT.
SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO RETAIN THE PATRIOTIC SPIRIT ALIVE AND WELL IN VERY GOOD TIMES, WHEN THE GOING SEEMS EASY. AND YET, EVEN NOWADAYS, WITH TERRORISM, AND WE ARE CALLED TO BE ON OUR WATCH AND ALERT TO THOSE WHO WOULD HARM US.
THE GOSPEL FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY IS THE REAL CHALLENGE FOR OUR FAITH. IT OFFERS US A HUGE VISION FOR GOD'S WORLD, A DREAM THAT GOD HAS FOR THIS WORLD THAT HE HAS CREATED. IT'S A VISION OF A HUMAN FAMLY UNDER GOD. THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK, SO THAT WE DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THE CYCLE OF RETALIATION AND PAY BACK. HOLY SCRIPTURE REJECTS REVENGE. IT SPEAKS OF A WORLD OF PEACE WHERE THE LAMB AND THE LION LIE DOWN TOGETHER. THE BIBLE REJECTS AN ETHIC OF AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH. JESUS IS SAYING WE SHOULD ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GENEROSITY, OPENNESS, AND RECONCILIATION. ACTING TOWAD THE ENEMY AS GOD DOES WHEN HE SENDS THE RAIN ON ALL ALIKE, ON THE JUST AND ON THE UNJUST.
IF YOU THINK ALL THIS IN HARD STUFF, IT IS. JUST TRY IT AND SEE HOW HARD IT IS.
SO PATRIOTI8M IS NOT JUST FLAG WAVING, BUT ALSO IN STRIVING THAT OUR COUNTRY SHALL BE RIGHTEOUS AS WELL AS STRONG. WE ARE CALLED TO WELCOME THE STRANGER AND LOVE OUR ENEMIES. THESE ARE NOT NAMBY PAMBY CALLINGS. THEY INCLUDE JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO WOULD DO US HARM, THEY INCLUDE IMMIGRATION LAWS THAT ARE EFFECTIVE. THE FOURTH IS FOR FUN AND FIREWORKS. IN THE BACKGROUND TO ALL OF THAT, IS THE TRUTH THAT WE ALL LOVE OUR COUNTRY, ARE ALSO WILLING TO BE INVOLVED AND WORK TO MAKE THIS LAND AN EVEN BETTER PLACE.
WHEN WE SING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST VERSE IS A QUESTION ASKING US IF WE CAN SEE THE DAWN OF EACH NEW DAY IN OUR COUNTRY. THE 2ND VERSE HAS THE ANSWSER, IN THE LIGHT WE CAN SEE THE FLAG THROUGH WHATEVER HAZE AND DARKNESS WE ARE EXPERIENCING. AND TRUSTNG IN GOD, WE CAN STILL BE THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE.
The Prayers of the People
Thanksgivings for National Life (BCP page 838)
Almighty God, giver of all good things:
We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.
They restore us, though we often destroy them.
We thank you for the great resources of
this nation. They
make us rich, though we often exploit them.
We thank you for the men and women who have made this
country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall
short of them.
We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in
this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we
have often hidden from its light.
We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich
variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless
again and again.
Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.
Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice,
and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when
all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will
glorify your holy Name. Amen.
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful
hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of
decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant
that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the
benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This
we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.