Friday, July 04, 2008

Our Nation's Birthday

From the Liturgical Notes section of last Sunday's service booklet in my parish:

In the calendar of the American Prayer Book, Independence Day (Friday, July 4) ranks as a “major feast” (see p.17)—a collect and lessons are provided. (Thanksgiving Day is the other U.S. national holiday to enjoy similar status.) Such observances call to mind the oft-troubled history of church-state relations, not only in our own country today, but going back to Roman times. Our national identity was formed as part of concerted effort to foster mutual tolerance among Christian denominations with divergent viewpoints. This gave rise to a doctrine than has come to be known as the “separation of church and state.” We used to know what that expression means, but over the last fifty years or so, it seems to have become less clear.

Two things are clear, however: First, Jesus told us that we are to be in the world. The world observes political/ethnic/national categories, and we need not resist those categories. We should be good citizens, pay our taxes, and, as a general rule, obey the law. We may even love our country!

Second, Jesus also told us that we are not of the world. Our true citizenship is elsewhere (Philippians 3:20), and our bond with other Christians, established in our common baptism, is stronger and more commanding on our loyalty than those of national identity. All Christians are, in a sense, “resident aliens,” no matter what country they live in.

3 comments:

Barb said...

Hi friend!

May I suggest "separation of religion and government" as more appropriate terms? These terms give better perspective to the danger of government intrusion into matters of faith. When that happens, both a fair government and freedom of faith are endangered and may be lost.

Similarly, the word "tolerance" concerns me as it may all too quickly may become the dangerous "intolerance".

Better we should celebrate diversity as God surely has done in all of creation. How many kinds of trees? tree bark? flowers? birds? aglae? clouds? animals? eye colors? wheat? ... and every other category of creation that I can think of! Diversity! What a blessing. There is no opposite word to "diversity" that is a danger to others.

Happy 4th!

Lee said...

...mutual tolerance among all religions, would be a better read of what the Founding Fathers (and they were all men, but they sure would not be today, and thank God for that, despite what Ft. Worth thinks!) meant. Billy Penn wanted all religions to be able to prosper, and so did the Founding Fathers, and that make those of us who want to think of ourselves as a Christian nation to pause a bit.

Lee at wlh1933@verizon.net

Fred Schwartz said...

What about all those good people in DoSJ that now use the 1662 prayer book? What do they do for Independence Day?