I love the 4th of July, don’t you? As most of you know, I grew up in Arlington, which has had a fantastic 4th of July parade now for 40 years. I went to many of those early parades, even participated in a couple of them — on the Candy Striper float throwing out candy to the crowd as I recall. There were lots of horses; the high school bands; kids on decorated bicycles; local celebrities; floats from different groups; and lots of veterans in the parades. It was the veteran groups that always brought tears to my eyes – especially the Viet Nam vets and the survivors of Pearl Harbor. Just to think of the sacrifices so many made in our 235 year history so that we might be free is quite humbling.
Did you know that Americans have been celebrating this day since 1777? In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote, “The Second Day of July 1776 … will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival … It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward and forever more.” Adams was prophetic; Americans have long celebrated independence in those very ways. However, Congress formally approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4; consequently, July 4 rather than July 2 become the day of celebrations.
Of course, we as Christians celebrate another kind of freedom every Sunday, don’t we? I hope we celebrate and live it every day. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (5:1) Christ Jesus has set us free from sin and from the power of sin to separate us from God and God’s love. We are freed from the power of sin to ensnare us because we have God’s power to help us. Again Paul writes, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
Paul teaches that Christ “buys” us from the slavery of sin. Rev. Paul Stroble writes, “One of the greatest things about our Christian freedom is that we no longer have to struggle to please God or try to save ourselves through perfect obedience to the law. Christ has done everything necessary to save u and establish us in a right relationship with God. That is why the salvation of and freedom in Christ is so precious.
So let’s celebrate freedom this July 4th, both as Americans and Christians, remembering the great sacrifice and cost to have it. Let’s live free in honor of the One and the ones who bought our freedom.
In Christ, Pastor Donna