From the Cathedral: Our Prayer for Independence Day
Twenty score and seven years ago, the founders of this nation set forth on a grand experiment in democracy, fueled by the promising ideals of equality and justice for all. As Americans, we have wrestled, argued, voted and even died in the struggle to expand that same equality and justice to include all of God’s children.
We haven’t always gotten it right, and it will take the commitment of everyone to hold this nation accountable in fulfilling its founding promise that not only are all people created equal, but they are entitled to equality.
The long arc of Scripture, and our own Baptismal Covenant, mandate that we pursue justice in our homes, our churches and, yes, in our politics. Will we strive for justice and peace among all people? We will, with God’s help. Will we respect the dignity of every human being? We will, with God’s help.
As America marks Independence Day and the values that have sustained this nation for 247 years, some wonder if those promises will ever be met. Others fear that those promises are now in jeopardy, or are at risk of being rescinded, or are only available for a few and not for everyone. Indeed, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry noted, “This may feel like a moment of difficulty and darkness, and it is. And yet the work goes on.”
Our provost, the Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, put it this way in the pulpit on Sunday:
“Many in our community are feeling much more vulnerable and much more afraid in light of the striking down of some laws that were designed to be anti-discriminatory and protective of protected classes. Jesus’ message about welcome is clear. I want to be equally clear this morning: for those of you who are feeling more vulnerable, who are worried about what the future may hold, we see you. You are welcome here. You are safe here. You are beloved in this community, and we will redouble our efforts to live more fully into our baptismal covenant, to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being—no exceptions. No exceptions.”
“This is not a new struggle. This is not new work. Fifty-five years ago, in this pulpit, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That doesn’t happen all by itself. He reminded us that “human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God.” My friends, we’ve got to be co-workers with God. We have plenty of work to do. When we think about this beautiful human family, part of what I hope that we can embrace is that our very diversity is a gift from God, a diversity that is to be celebrated, not controlled and contained somehow. It’s a gift!”
On this Independence Day, and every day, may it be so.
(photo courtesy Matt Wade/Wikimedia Commons)