Independence Day – 7-4-24

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

Today Americans celebrate our independence as a nation, two years shy of our 250th birthday. Our union is having growing pains. The dream of America and the reality of America can seem as divergent as the viewpoints of its citizens.

Yet we celebrate. We celebrate the courage of those who fought to liberate themselves from the oppression of a colonial power, even as those same people continued to oppress and even colonize others.

We celebrate the dream of democracy, even as the strength of that democracy is being tested in ways not seen since the Civil War.

We celebrate the impulse toward diversity and inclusion that represents the best of America, even as we reckon with the evils of racism woven into our very foundations as a nation – there would have been no federation of states had not the northern states agreed to abandon efforts to abolish slavery.

We celebrate the generosity that led America to open its doors to immigrants and make sacrifices for the liberty of other nations, even as we struggle with a resurgence of virulent nationalism, some labeled as “Christian,” though I doubt Christ would recognize its rhetoric as having anything to do with his teachings or life.

There is undeniably a role for Christianity in our country: it is one of humility and transformation, not might and oppression. We are to be missionaries coming in love, not thugs preaching division and sedition. Ours is to be an apostolic movement, following the example of the apostles. And what did they do in their first missionary foray? So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. 

There are many who need to repent of self-absorption and disdain for those with whom they disagree. There are many afflicted with forces we might consider demonic – rage, violence, degradation, prejudice, depression, addiction. People need to be set free, and that includes a spiritual dimension that Christ-followers are equipped to offer. And there are many who are sick, in body, mind and spirit. If all the Church did in the next ten years was focus on healing, we would make a tremendous impact. Jesus did in only three.

Do you feel equipped to be an apostle of Christ in your surroundings? “Apostolic” just means doing whatever Jesus’ apostles did. And they did this: proclaimed God’s reign, invited people to open themselves to God’s love (repentance), and demonstrated that love through curing the sick and casting out evil wherever they encountered it. They did this not on their own, but by God’s power working through them as Jesus gave them authority. That’s all.

We too have been given this gift of Spirit and this authority over evil. All we really need is the power of the Holy Spirit alive and working through us, and the courage to let her flow. That is an Independence Day God will delight in.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for next Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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