Dear Ones in Christ Jesus:
This issue of NewsNet comes to you just before another July 4th Independence Day commemoration. It will be observed in a variety of ways by individuals, communities and institutions. A lot will be done virtually. To be sure this year will be different. Parades and fireworks will be curtailed in all but a few places and rightly so in light of COVID-19. The consumption of too much grilled, burnt, high-cholesterol meat may actually increase. That doesn't even take into account the typical over-consumption of alcohol. Vacations and family reunions will be altered if held at all. And oh yes, store sales will try to convince consumers that we are getting a deal on something we need or that we need something that we really do not. The big difference is that likely most of the buying will be done online. Most of what I have listed above offers no direct line of sight to a thoughtful commemoration of America's Independence Day.
This year we may have a unique opportunity to ponder the dream and the ideal of America. But all of us, and Christians in particular, might serve the whole well by going deep in reflection. What if we who name the name of Jesus as Lord were to lead the discussion about the difference between love of nation and ultimate loyalty to the reign of God? A nation (any nation), no matter how noble in aspiration, will sometimes act in ways that cut against the grain of the reign of God. When this happens, and it does every day everywhere in the world, how ought people who follow Jesus respond, act, lead?
So this July 4th, let's re-read the Declaration of Independence and commit to engage with all our might to make "these truths" true for more people rather than fewer and to close any gaps between the high ideals stated there and the realities we see. Let's read the document again through the lens of the Gospel and dare to believe that God might use us like leaven in the loaf. This will not make us less. It will make us more. We won't be weaker, we will be stronger.
I heartily encourage you to tune in to the Town Hall referenced below that will stimulate conversation about what freedom looks like.
Reflectively and gratefully I remain,
Yours in Christ,
+Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
PS: During my Renewal Leave, several staff colleagues will prepare thoughtful material for this space. I will resume this work with the September 4 issue.