Today is the Fourth of July, and tonight – as fireworks fill the skies and we stare into the heavens – our eyes focus on our unity as a nation regardless of creed or heritage. This sense of American pride is beautifully captured in the following words from our Sabbath prayer book:
God, who has made us one nation out of many peoples, amid our diversities of race and tradition, unite us in a common love of freedom and in a high ambition for our national life.
Continue in us the pioneering spirit which led our ancestors across the estranging sea and upheld them in the wilderness.
Deepen in the people of this land a devotion to the common good, so that we may open new doors of hope to the neglected and the oppressed. . .
Help us establish this land in righteousness. . . (Union Prayer Book p. 121).
These words remind us that we live in a country where diversity is celebrated and ingenuity of thought and belief are part of the fabric of our national identity. Indeed, each year we have a great deal to celebrate, and through our fireworks and picnics, we certainly do our share of rejoicing. However, if we fail to remember what the fireworks are all about; if we fail to appreciate the liberties we have been afforded and fail to defend the liberties of others, the Fourth of July will be just another day.
May the words of this prayer and the joys we plan to share with family and friends help us remember that we must constantly stand up for the core values of our nation so that in every generation liberty and freedom, diversity and independence will be guaranteed to all.