The Fourth of July is one of our two quintessential American holidays along with Thanksgiving Day of course. Many of us will be at home hosting family gatherings, picnic suppers, and looking for places to watch the fireworks. Others of us will be heading to the shore or some other vacation destination. Small towns and large cities across the country will gather along parade routes to watch and cheer as the bands march, the flags are waved and the joy of living in “the land of the brave and the home of the free” is celebrated.
As Christians we treasure our freedom as one of the primary blessings of God, and we trust the ancient promise made to Abraham and Sarah that “all the families of the earth” would come to know God’s blessing. It is an inclusive promise for every race and land.
A couple of years ago, when the General Assembly of the PC(USA) was meeting during the first week of July, Presbyterian and Rear Admiral Mark Tidd led the whole church in prayer for the Fourth of July. May his prayer be our prayer this holiday weekend:
Everlasting God of righteousness and grace, as our nation celebrates this Independence Day, remind us of our complete dependence upon you. We look to you for your wisdom and mercy as important issues are discussed. On this day, we ask you to keep this nation, and all nations, under your care, that we may be peoples who are at peace, and who are a blessing to others in this earth. Grant our nation's leaders wisdom, that there would be times of peace and justice in our land and in our world.
On this day, we lift up to you all who serve in our Armed Forces, who serve as the centurion did as ones who are under authority—brave men and women who risk their lives for their country. Remind us of those who are far from home and loved ones, who on this day sail or fly or walk in harm’s way, and keep them always close to you. Where there is combat, grant them compassion for their enemies, and keep them brave in the face of evil. Hold in your loving hands the families of those who are far away. Grant them comfort in their anxieties. And comfort those who grieve, because they have received the dreaded message that their loved one has died. Strengthen those who carry the wounds of war, visible and invisible, and be to them a sure presence.
On this day keep all of us grounded not in our strength but in yours, ever relying upon the promise that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength ... They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
All of this we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
And in these troubled times across the globe, may we also be ever vigilant to pray for the freedom of all God’s children, trusting that the day is surely coming when the ancient promises of faith may indeed be a blessing to all the families of the earth.