Monday we will celebrate our Independence Day with family gatherings, watch 4th of July fireworks displays and possibly have a BBQ type meal. I’m sure there will be various editorial comments in print and social media, on Facebook, Nextdoor and other sources of information about the meaning of this important day. But, when was the last time any of us read the Declaration of Independence besides in our American Government class? More and more I am convinced that we need to study our American history, World history, and learn about all societies. We can be very provincial at times, almost medieval in the sense that other countries ought to revolve around us rather than realizing we are all on a journey together, on our planet. Our ancestors had more than a goal of independence in mind. They saw possibilities and had dreams of what a free country could be for so many people, especially immigrants, since most of us come from immigrant families; few families can trace their origins only to this continent.
The second paragraph of the Declaration states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
A commentary on the usa.gov website makes this comment: “This sentence has become an especially celebrated part of the Declaration of Independence. It states God (more of a God-as-nature than a clearly Christian God) has given each human equal rights to life, freedom, and the ability to pursue happiness. The “pursuit of happiness” has been interpreted to include fair economic opportunities. The declaration begins with a discussion of such profound philosophical and religious concepts because it aims to justify a very bold venture. Declaring a separation from the most economically and militarily powerful nation on earth, Jefferson and the Continental Congress invoke these principles so that the very laws of creation seem to justify independence.” With independence comes the responsibility of learning wisdom, being open to wisdom and creating a forum to develop wisdom. With Britain’s recent referendum to separate from the European Union, they, too, will discover what all that means from creating new transit agreements, to entering new trade agreements and more.
In our continuation of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs to prepare the way for his ensuing visit. With their election, going forth preaching the Kingdom in his name, they ministered effectively among the people realizing the Kingdom of God is now. Those first disciples recognized they ministered together with Christ, not completely independently. Maybe we can learn something from them, learn something from the Declaration of Independence. Let us together reflect on the wisdom of this document and seek ways to implement it. Happy 4th of July 2016!
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor