Independence Day (July 4)   3 comments

statue-of-liberty

Above:  The Statue of Liberty

Image in the Public Domain

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The New Colossus

By Emma Lazarus, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As a student and teacher of United States history I know of the glories and hypocrisies of our national past.  One one hand we are a nation founded on high ideals, such as equality and access to opportunity.  Yet this nation that saved the world in the 1940s did so with racially segregated armed forces.  The same man who wrote that all men are created equal owned slaves.  And women could not vote in all states until 1920.  I could continue but I have made my point.

I am a patriot and a nationalist descended from people who arrived in this nation while it consisted of British colonies.  Hence I admit to feeling no sense of ethnicity or national hyphenation.  I am merely an American.  That suffices.

As an American I celebrate the positives of our nation.  I know, for example, that we are closer today to living into our stated ideals than we were a century ago.  Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which established the fallacy of “separate but equal as the law of the land, resides in the dust bin of history.  Also, Roman Catholics run for President now with barely any accusations that the Pope controls them.  Although our improvements are glorious we have more work to do.  We have discrimination to end and access to opportunity to expand.  We have received much, so much is expected of us.  May we shoulder this responsibility ably and for the sake of others, not ourselves.  With our lives may we honor those, whether living or dead, who have sacrificed for this nation.

May we build the good society.  Martin Luther King, Jr., criticized the United States in the 1960s for being focused on things, not people.  His evaluation remains relevant.  Accordingly, may we–as businesses, communities, houses of worship, non-profit organizations, families–and yes, governments–value human life and well-being more than money.  May we heed prophets more than profits.  May we do what Jesus would do.  The Bible says that the love of money–not money itself–is the root of all evil.  I object to greed, not money.

I recognize the unfortunate reality that some people will fall through the cracks of society, and that the poor will be with us always.  Sometimes people make bad decisions.  Other times they are merely unfortunate.  Yet we can offer assistance to these people and reduce poverty and homelessness rates.  The inability to eradicate a problem does not excuse us from the responsibility to ease it.  Easing it is a biblical mandate, in fact.  Frequently the Bible speaks of caring for the less fortunate and of the wrath of God for not doing this.

In conclusion, the Baptismal Covenant of The Episcopal Church includes the following question: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  The answer is, “I will, with God’s help.”  The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States calls for securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Those who suffer from economic, political, and judicial injustice cannot enjoy the Blessings of Liberty.  This state of affairs diminishes us all.  Respecting the the dignity of every human being improves us all, our communities, our states, and our nation.  And it is righteous.

May God bless the United States of America and help us to become what we should become.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

Lord God Almighty, in whose name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we all the peoples 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.

Deuteronomy 10:17-21

Psalm 145 or 145:1-9

Hebrews 11:8-16

Matthew 5:43-48

“For the Nation” (From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, pages 838-839):

Almighty God, giver of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty of this land.  They restore us, though we often destroy them.

Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation.  They make us rich, though we often exploit them.

Forgive us.

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.

Inspire us.

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.

Enlighten us.

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.

Renew us.

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.

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Posted October 18, 2009 by neatnik2009 in July

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