Dear friends in Christ,
For readers living in the USA, tomorrow is Independence Day. Mostly the holiday seems to be about a day off from work, some outdoor food, and dazzling fireworks displays. If we look a bit deeper, Independence Day celebrates the founding of this nation—and a broad vision of freedom.
Of course, we can’t think about freedom and the founding of the United States without remembering that freedoms were really only for white male property owners. There is tragic irony in the presence of slavery and the poor treatment of Native Americans while leaders talked about “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Still, one can see a broad vision of freedom that was—though immensely flawed—ahead of its time. The founders thought a lot about the common good, seeking to fashion a kind of freedom that would benefit all people. Today when we celebrate Independence Day, we tend to focus on freedom as a projection of power and rights. We celebrate the idea that we can do whatever we want, both as people and as a nation.
Christians have a different view of freedom, and we were reminded of this just last Sunday in the epistle, taken from Galatians 5. I like the RSV translation, “For you were called to freedom…only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.” That is, we who follow Jesus can do whatever we want, but our faith compels us to use our freedom to care for others. Galatians reminds us that, in fact, we Christians do have laws: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
So this Independence Day, whether you are a resident of the USA or not, perhaps it would be good to reflect on how we—as individuals and as a nation—use our freedom. Do we use our freedom for the good of all? Or do we use our freedom for a privileged few? Are we loyal to Jesus first, or to nationalism? How can we build up a land in which all people are able to flourish as the people God has made them to be?
Today’s Flash Sale: For the Beauty of the Earth
God saw every living thing that was made, and indeed, it was very good. -Genesis 1:31
Dance along with the wind of God, be bathed in the primal waters, and look with awe and wonder on the myriad creatures God has made. Spend a day, a week, a month, or the whole year basking in the wonder of both fruit and flower, night and day, and everything thing that creeps upon the good earth. You are part and parcel of the very good creation God has made.
Join watercolor artist Kathrin Burleson and diverse voices from across The Episcopal Church in exploring the wonders of Creation and the beauty of the Creator. Burleson’s Creation-inspired watercolors offer inspiring visualizations that enhance the book’s 365 daily meditations, written by authors across the church and across the country.
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