Happy Birthday, America. This month we once again celebrate our country’s birth date, the 4th of July. The hallmark of America is “freedom.” From the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, and other historic documents, America has become a beacon for freedom. When we watch fireworks bursting overhead in multiple colors on the 4th of July, we remember what America stands for.
Our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, reminds us:
“…the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
The flag was still there, seen through the fire and smoke. America was once again fighting for its freedom.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that made people of color no longer slaves. A hundred years later in 1963, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, stood at the base of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in which he said,
“This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning: ‘My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!’ And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
Let freedom ring! We remember the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. We remember the statue in Washington DC depicting six marines raising the American flag over Iwo Jima. There are many images of liberty and freedom, There are also many songs of patriotism such as Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA” or Celine Dion’s rendition of “God Bless America”. “This Land Is Your Land,” words by Woody Guthrie is one of the favorites praising our land from sea to shiny sea.
This year of 2020 we find ourselves in a deeply divided nation over many issues. The church continues to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of these issues. Congregations are starting conversations about race, justice issues, policing policies, Supreme Court rulings, how to manage the pandemic, etc. As we celebrate our nation’s birthdate, we acknowledge our nation’s short-comings to live up to its highest ideals. We also need to lift high our nation’s highest aspirations. We need to dedicate ourselves to build a better future going forward. We need to care for the poor, the hungry, to indigent, the outcast and those seeking justice. WE NEED TO PRAY FOR HEALING IN OUR LAND.
One Minute is written by Rev. Ron Rehrer, Counselor for Church Workers of the Pacific Southwest District, phone: 949.433.5182, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org