For some reason, I seem to mark the years of my life by the annual 4th of July celebrations. I really don’t know why, but it is the case. And this week-end, and certainly today, are no exception. But this weekend seemed a little different to Janet and me. First of all, we have been out of the country for a good deal of the time since Memorial Day, the celebration week-end that ushers in the start of summer. And so, we both felt that July 4th kind of snuck up on us this year. We have a usual list of things we do; but Kristin and her family are out of town, and Andrew and his family have been busy moving – so it was just Janet and me today. Now don’t get me wrong – we love being together, but we both believe that part of the issue with the celebrations of the 4th have to do with family.
Today, we went to the annual parade in Carmel and really enjoyed it. Then, after several errands, we attended Carmelfest, a local celebration, much like a state or county fair, only much smaller, that is held in our community. Dinner with Andrew and Stacy completed the day – that is until now. I know it is still a little early, but I have already taken the flags down from outside; and Janet and I are watching an episode of John Adams on HBO. We both love American history and we have never seen this mini-series; somehow it seems so appropriate to begin it on July 4th.
Many things have passed through my mind today. Such as the fact that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on this date in 1826 – 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. These two great founding fathers had much to do with the country that we live in today. Without their courage, and leadership, we may well never have ever gained our independence from England.
And since then, hundreds of thousands of Americans have fought to defend this country; and to promote the cause of freedom across the world. Many of them have been injured, or killed, in the service of their country. And this day, we celebrate our freedom and show our patriotism by throwing elaborate parades and fireworks displays from sea to shining sea.
Each year, as part of our family tradition, we attend the Symphony on the Prairie celebration with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at Conner Prairie. This year, we went on Friday evening, the first night of the celebration. We have almost memorized the program by now – we have been attending for 28 years. All the members of our family who live locally were there, and we had a great time. Themes from Gettysburg, the Patriot and many other famous music scores were played; as well as the traditional playing of the various military songs during which members of each branch of the service are recognized for their service to this great country.
I can’t help but be reminded of a Bible story about a similar topic. In the book of Esther, we are told about the plot of Haman to end the freedom of, and to kill, all the Jews. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, encourages Esther to step up and accept the responsibility that her position affords; to save her people. Eventually, Haman’s plot is discovered, he is hanged, and the Jewish people are delivered from certain annihilation. There were massive celebrations throughout the land and all ends well for the people of God. In Esther 8:15-17 we are told, “Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating.”
Sounds like our 4th of July, doesn’t it? And just like the founding of this country, it happened because of the courage of a few brave people. So my encouragement tonight is to celebrate this great nation of ours – there is none like it on the face of the earth. And my prayer is a simple one – that God may continue to bless us and keep us dedicated to His will. Because today more than ever, we need to return to our Christian roots and continue to be “One nation, under GOD” – and dispense with all the rhetoric that pushes this country away from its core values as defined by our founding fathers…..