Dear Ones in Christ Jesus:
This issue of NewsNet comes to you on the day before. The day before what, you ask. July 4th. America's Independence Day. It will be observed in a variety of ways by individuals, communities and institutions. There will be parades, fireworks, the consumption of too much grilled, burnt, high-cholesterol meat. That doesn't even take into account the inevitable over-consumption of alcohol. Many will start vacations and travel to family reunions. And oh yes, store sales will try to convince us consumers that we are getting a deal on something we need or that we need something that we really do not. Most of what I have listed above offers no direct line of sight to a thoughtful commemoration of America's Independence Day.
There is nothing wrong with using the occasion for a bit of recognition and celebration of the dream and the ideal of America. But all of us, and Christians in particular, might serve the whole well in practicing a bit more soberness 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.
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.