By The Very Rev’d B. Keith Allen
The United States of America fought for its independence from England in hopes of setting a course as a Republic whose citizens were free to enjoy and live out their Creator’s will as they understood it. They based this pursuit upon the rights afforded them by God. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is to these beginnings that I would call us on this Independence Day. We are One Nation Under God—pursuing Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness!
First, we are ONE NATION under God, yet today our nation today stands divided by race, religion, social status, wealth, geography, politics, and ideologies. The content of our public discourse and life has diminished and been reduced to name calling and caricature. It seems that we have lost the art of respectful exchange of ideas and respect of persons.
We must remember that our nation was founded upon the belief that all men are created equal. Our forefathers were fleeing those rulers and nations where they could not express their ideas and live out their faith. Thus, our nation began with the ideal that we are all reflections of God’s image and must be honored as such. This nation must remember that our history began with the goal of a UNITED States, where all people were free to share and explore the future. This must be a nation where right, left, rich, poor, educated, and uneducated—regardless of race—will be heard.
The result of this coming together as one is describe as “E Pluribus Unum,” which is a Latin phrase found on the seal of the United States and speaks to the reality that we came from many nations, with many different cultures and dreams, yet we are one. In coming together as a nation, we are made more than the sum of our parts. Our founders knew that the sharing of our lives and dreams is not merely the addition of ideas, but rather the multiplication of blessings for all. The respect of persons leads to the sharing of dreams and ideals in ways that result in a better future. Thus, on this Independence Day, we need to come together again—the many becoming one, bringing our best ideas to confront the many problems facing our nation. We must do this for the sake of our children and the future of our nation.
Second, we are one nation UNDER GOD. The framers were men of faith and sought to form a nation where all were free to worship according to their own conscience. They did not want a state that defined, demanded, or dictated how men would worship their Creator. Rather they envisioned a nation where every man, woman, and child was free to worship out of the overflow of the heart. Thus, we are a nation where you can worship or not, believe in God or not, go to church or stay home. Yet all these freedoms are based upon the foundation of a Creator who has made each of us equal and free. Thus, we must all be free to live out our conscience as a part of both our public and private lives.
The reality is that our faith is not merely a private matter. Faith shapes every sphere of life. Thus, as we come together as a nation, what we believe will be borne out in the public square. Therefore, Christians must be free to celebrate Easter, Christmas, and observe the Lord’s Day. Likewise, those of other faiths must enjoy the same freedoms of worship too. Those who choose not to worship at all must be free to pursue their ends as well. However, all must be free to worship God according to their conscience.
Finally, as a Christian I want to exhort my brothers and sisters to remember the price paid by our forefathers in order to secure for us our freedoms. We must exercise these freedoms and live out our faith for the good of our nation. We must love the Lord our God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves. The Church must remember her calling and live out her mission.
The greatest independence of all is the freedom from guilt, sin, and condemnation found only in the freedom of the Cross. Thus, I would encourage all who know Christ to go and share His good news with the world that true freedom might right among every tribe, tongue and nation!
Happy Independence Day!
The Very Rev’d. B. Keith Allen, Rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Madison also serves as the Dean of the Mid-South Anglican Convocation (ADOTS) serving parishes in Mississippi, Western Tennessee, Arkansas, Southern Missouri and North Western Alabama. His role is to encourage existing parishes in ministry and to help envision future mission in the region.