July 4, 2007

Independence Day

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is July 4th, 2007: Independence Day.

I don’t know why I’m always surprised when I come across Independence Day on the calendar of the Episcopal Church. Perhaps it’s because of a commitment to the separation of Church and State. Perhaps it’s just because most members of the Church of England were loyalists during the Revolution, so it seems kind of like jumping on the bandwagon to make it such a prominent commemoration.

Of course, it wasn’t always a holiday in the Episcopal Church. Some suggested it to be included in the First American Prayer Book of 1789, but others, including Presiding Bishop William White, opposed it—precisely because so few priests could celebrate it without dealing with the fact that they had opposed the Revolution. White himself had been in favor of the Revolution, but wrote that in using such a service, “the many clergy who had been averse to the American revolution… must make an implied acknowledgment of their error, in an address to Almighty God.” There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging error in an address to Almighty God, of course, so long as one really believes an error has been made. Perhaps Bishop White knew of many priests who weren’t yet convinced of the Revolution’s wisdom.

But it is precisely the idealism of the day that endears it to me in the end. In the Gospel lesson appointed for today, Jesus issues his famously difficult instruction, “You have hear 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.” (Matthew 5:43-48) I’m glad that we’ve restored this commemoration. For my part, I am thankful for the opportunity to confess my errors in an address to Almighty God, and to hear again the Christian obligation to build peace and justice, both in our Church and in our Country.

Let us pray: 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 peach; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on July 11th at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed Benedict of Nursia. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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