Morning: Isa. 26:1-4, 7-8, 12; John 8:31-36
Evening: Deut. 4:1-14; Gal. 4:26-5:1
As we commemorate Independence Day, let’s also take time to reflect on the principles and ideals of the United States. Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer provide profound insights into the origins of liberty, the role of devotion to God, and the pursuit of righteousness. Together, they paint a picture of how our understanding of freedom is intertwined with our faith and commitment to the Triune God.
Epistle: Drawing from Deuteronomy 10:17-21
THE LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgement of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.Deuteronomy 10:17-21
The Author of Your Liberty
God is God over all principalities and powers. In Him, we have the beginning of all wisdom, truth, integrity, and love. There is no other to appeal to. Seeking guidance, support, and sustenance from any other source would be futile. By acknowledging God as the Author of our liberty, we affirm our reliance on Him as the ultimate foundation and sustainer of our freedom. It reinforces the idea that our liberties are not merely human constructs, but rather gifts bestowed upon us by a higher power.
The Origin of Your Liberty
Devotion to God is the foundation of one’s devotion to Him. In this passage, it is Israel’s font for the liberty they have from Pharoah. Just as the ancient Israelites’ freedom from Pharaoh originated in their devotion to God, the freedom celebrated by Americans is intricately connected to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The principles of liberty and justice that form the bedrock of American society are ultimately derived from the same devotion. Jesus declared it like this:
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.John 8:31-36
The Son takes the shackles and bondage of this world and castes them away from us. When we all were strangers to God, Jesus sacrificially loved us in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 10:17-21. He is the embodiment of true freedom, and through His sacrificial work, He breaks the shackles of sin and provides genuine liberation.
Gospel: Independence from St. Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.St. Matthew 5:43-48
Today’s passage doesn’t appear to have anything to do with liberty and more so to do with Christ teaching us to exceed in righteousness. Jesus challenges His followers to love their enemies and surpass mere adherence to rules. He teaches a righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and Sadducees, emphasizing the importance of self-governance by the Spirit.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”John Adams
This self-governance, rooted in love and grace, is crucial for attaining true liberty. It requires embracing Jesus, who sets us free from the bondage of sin.
Not according to the Flesh
How is one to attain such perfection? By works of the law? No, because if we could attain perfect liberty and self-governance by doing good then Christ’s work is for naught. It is written:
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.Galatians 2:21
So how do we attain our Independence through righteousness? The answer is by faith in the promise:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.Galatians 4:26-5:1
Applying these passages to Independence Day, the passage reminds us that true freedom goes beyond mere political or societal independence. It encompasses the pursuit of righteousness, the rejection of the previous bondage, and the recognition of the inherent worth and freedom of every individual.
The Collect: Seeking Eternal God’s Blessings
ETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.REC Book of Common Prayer, Pg. 279
The Collect acknowledges the role of God in the nation’s attainment of liberty and emphasizes the desire to guard these freedoms. With resolution, we ask God to sustain the United States, so that we may faithfully preserve the hard-won liberties delivered to us by our forefathers.
Reflections on Independence Day: Applying the Message
In our reflections on Independence Day, we recognize the need for reformation and revival, both individually and as a nation. We need God more than ever, especially in the face of growing technocracy. Attending church becomes a place of refuge, worship, and community, where we seek God’s guidance and strength. Love and unity are crucial in manifesting the principles of liberty and justice. Tithing and prayer play significant roles in our pursuit of liberty, reflecting our trust in God’s provision and connecting us with His will. We petition that the Church be fishing nets of community, love, and liberty, fulfilling the Great Commission. Ultimately, we are called to be fishers of men, leading others into the freedom found in Christ.
Anglican Pastor. “How Independence Day Helped Form the Anglican Communion.” Anglican Compass, Accessed Month Day, Year. https://anglicancompass.com/how-independence-day-helped-form-the-anglican-communion/
J. Bartolo Cruz. “Why Do Anglicans Celebrate Feast Days?” Saint Andrew’s Reformed Episcopal Church, Accessed Month Day, Year. https://saintandrewsrec.com/why-do-anglicans-celebrate-feast-days/#:~:text=Anglicans%20celebrate%20feast%20days%20because,10%3A24).
To multiply faithful servants of Christ; who will commit themselves to the worship and doctrines of the Anglican way, and who will work by God's grace and for His glory to disciple the nations through the ministry of the Church.