Freedom-loving God, you teach us through the prophets to “to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). This week, as we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, we are simultaneously grateful for our heritage and yet concerned for our future.
We are thankful for the privilege of living in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We are thankful for those who came before us paving the way for unrivaled liberties that allow us to freely make choices about our work, our worship, our convictions, and our lifestyle. We are indebted to past and present veterans who risked life and limb in the pursuit and protection of these freedoms.
From the “mountains to the prairies” we are inspired by some of the most majestic and diverse scenery on our planet. From “sea to shining sea” we are privileged to enjoy a treasure trove of natural resources. We have access to comfortable housing, above average healthcare, an assorted wardrobe, a sumptuous menu of our favorite foods, and smart devices that provide instant communication and diverse entertainment. We are certainly blessed beyond our deserving.
During this season of celebration we are grateful, yet concerned….concerned about our nation, concerned about our world, and concerned about the future.
From our many different perspectives and ideologies we are concerned about things like the threat posed by ISIS, the brutalities of ongoing wars, the safety of our houses of worship, the acceleration of racially motivated crimes, the abuse of political power, the divisiveness by misleading and untruthful political rhetoric from the left and the right, the lack of civility in public discourse, the moral ambivalence of our culture, and the ever present possibility of a natural disaster.
These concerns elevate our anxiety about the stability of our government, the security of our portfolios, the dependability of our employment, and the longevity of our freedom. And we confess that these anxieties often distract us from our mission to “love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly” with you.
These concerns and anxieties also reinforce our need to confess our sins, personally and corporately. We confess that we have taken our freedom for granted too frequently and we have too often been negligent in living up to the responsibilities of our citizenship. We confess that at times we are too quick to judge and even quicker to criticize. We confess that we are slow to pray for our leaders, slow to intercede for our neighbors, and even slower to trust in your leadership.
We also confess that our self-interests have too often taken priority over the best interest you intend for our nation and for our world. We confess that we have at times been irresponsible in our stewardship of our resources, including our time, talent, and treasure. We confess that we have too often trusted in our own initiatives and ingenuity more than we have trusted in you.
You tell us in an ancient but relevant scripture that, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)
As we celebrate this Independence Day, we ask you to forgive our sin and to heal our land. We pray for the leaders of our nation, our state, and our community that they will lead with integrity, courage, and wisdom.
We pray for the men and women who serve in our military that they will fulfill their mission effectively and return home safely and soon.
We pray for our enemies that their swords and ours will soon be “turned into plowshares.”
We pray for the churches, cathedrals, and temples of our community and our world that they will be sanctuaries of safety as well as lighthouses of grace and peace.
Because you are a freedom-loving God, lead us to exercise our freedom responsibly and to pursue “liberty and justice for all” people, without discrimination.
Synchronize our motives and our lifestyle with the One who came to make us free, indeed. Amen.