I have heard many preachers bemoan the need to prepare a sermon for a given holiday – be it Christmas, New Year, Easter or any other holiday on which parishioners expect to hear the day and its meaning honored. In fact, our church had one pastor who so consistently felt that way I could count ahead to when I would be asked to fill the pulpit.
In my 27th year of writing this column, I understand. As Father Bob told me when he announced his retirement, “There comes a time when you’ve told all your stories and it’s time to step down.” Happily, Father Bob “stepped down” right here in our own community and, if you are fortunate, you meet up with him from time to time and can once again enjoy his loving presence. He was always Father Bob to the entire community, not just his own flock.
So here we are at the Fourth of July – our nation’s Independence Day! What can I say?
The freedoms we take for granted as our rights, our privileges, were indeed hard won! Likewise, our nation has paid dearly to protect and maintain those freedoms.
When you gather openly in the church of your choice, or even when you choose not to worship in a church setting, stop and give thanks. The freedom of religion is, indeed, the foundation upon which this great nation was founded. Based on that one basic freedom are the many others we consider our rights.
We watch the flag go by in parades and don’t even stand or place a hand over our heart. That, too, is a freedom, though not one which I can adhere to. Still, those among us who choose to disfavor our flag and our freedoms are free to do so.
As we consider these things regarding our daily lives, let’s at least pause to remember the thousands upon thousands of lives spent in achieving and defending our independence. Let’s give honor to the flag known worldwide to represent the greatest nation on earth.
In the well-known song used by the Boy Scouts for many years, “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, we affirm our love of flag and country.
“You’re a grand old flag, You’re a high flying flag, And forever in peace may you wave.
“You’re the emblem of the land I love. The home of the free and the brave.
“Every heart beats true ’neath the Red, White and Blue,
“Where there’s never a boast or brag.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag.”
And while celebrating the flag we love and honor, let’s take time to remember that freedom to stand true to our nation’s flag is, in reality, based on the foundational freedom – freedom of religion.
Your freedoms, all of them, will end when you take your final breath, unless you have exercised your freedom to invite Jesus into your heart during your lifetime, for He, alone, can and will assure you of salvation from your sins and eternal life with Him in heaven.