United Church of Christ

Independence Day

I am a fan of freedom. I believe in the inherent dignity of all God’s beautiful children. I am a fan of the notion that all are created equal. I certainly appreciate the notion that we are all endowed by our Creator with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I will resist every effort to deprive humanity of those God-given endowments. And when any power, authority, or government persists in ongoing attempts to deny persons of those precious gifts, the governed should not only resist but revolt.

I am aware how precarious the maintenance of those rights can be, and how fragile becomes the human spirit when they are deprived of any race. Being white and being American ranks me among the precious few who can live an entire life without worrying about how I will recover those inalienable, God-endowed rights.

And so I will join the throngs of Americans who this week celebrate our hard won Independence. The stories of the brave and heroic leaders who risked their lives to escape tyranny and secure freedom for the generations that would follow is a story worth celebrating.

But I won’t be waving my stars and stripes. I won’t sing “God Bless America.” I won’t obediently rise and place my hand over my heart when our National Anthem is played. I have nothing at all against those who will, and who do so with great pride.

Mine is not an act of protest. It is not a statement about how America has never fully lived out its creed that all are created equal. Itis not a commitment to Black Lives Matter or any other protest movement, although I am fully committed to that and other movements seeking a just world for all.

I am a citizen of the world. I resist the temptation to believe that lines drawn on maps, lines that move as a result of having bigger guns and higher ambitions, define me and separate me from those who live on the other side of those arbitrarily drawn lines.

As long as flags and anthems and national hymns and patriotic fervor breed the notion of any nation’s exceptionalism and compel their youngest, best and brightest to take up arms against enemies foreign and domestic, I will refuse to bend the knee to any entity or product that smacks of national pride.

I love my freedom, and I appreciate that a government has been established with checks and balances to secure that freedom.

I will sing my praises to God for endowing me with those precious, inalienable rights. I will continue to resist oppressive forces that assemble at the expense of any citizen’s rights.

Mindful of this, I end with the words of one of my favorite Hymns. It is written to the tune of Finland’s national anthem, entitled “Finlandia” written by Jean Sebelius during their countries struggle to be free of Soviet Russia.

It reads:

“This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

“My countries skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.”

Let there be peace on Earth, dear gentle traveler, and let it begin with us on this, our journey Into the Mystic.