This Sunday is the day. This is the day we celebrate these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The Declaration of Independence.
Let me ask you, what if it were the “Declaration of Jesus”? From John 13: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
So, we’re celebrating our freedom this week. If the 4th of July were a celebration of the Declaration of Jesus Christ—if we start at love, the most rudimentary thing about discipleship—if we start at love—there’s no need for a wall on the border, worry about affordable healthcare or housing, voting rights, bathroom rights, or who can bake a birthday cake for whom. There wouldn’t be a need for the Supreme Court at all. There wouldn’t be any debate about it.
I mean let’s not forget why the USA started. Our almost 275-year history as Fairmount Church began and flourished on the bloody backs of all those people buried in many of our New Jersey cemeteries who fought and died so that we could worship God. Some gave all. Just so we can be here.
We can live by God, by our definition of God—in our own way. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sihks, and so on. Every. One. All of us.
And if we start at love, love for one another, then all the other foundational ideals of the USA fall into line. If we start at love, we wind up with justice for all. Don’t we?
So, as we celebrate our independence this week, celebrate freedom. Cooking our burgers, making our homemade ice cream, cutting up watermelon—don’t forget why it started.
Remember that America is here—we are here—because of the Gospel. So, to follow this Jesus in these United States, today, in 2021…let’s feel the love. Can you feel it? Can you feel it when we say it?
One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty-- And justice for all! Amen!