“Ponderings from the Pastor”
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! This July is definitely a time for the celebration of Freedom! Unlike the past two July 4ths we have observed, once again we are at least a little bit more free to enjoy remembering the birth of our Nation. While I will continue to urge you to be cautious with large social gatherings, I hope you will join us in Worship on Sunday July 4th as we celebrate this special day.
For many years I have struggled to maintain a “balance” when it comes to incorporating National Holidays into our Worship Services. Many people are “offended” when we “wave the flag” in Church, and I for one, do not understand the reasoning, especially here in the United States, a nation that was founded in large part for the purpose of being free to worship. To me it’s an oxymoron, or at least a bit confusing, when I hear people complain that somehow being patriotic is “un-Christian,” or “inappropriate in Church.” I have heard the arguments regarding the separation of Church and State, most of which attribute this “law” to the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, but the fact is there is no such statement in either of those documents. In fact, I did some research and have discovered that the idea of this separation is a principle that was paraphrased from Thomas Jefferson’s statement on the “Separation of Church and State.” This has been traced back to a letter that President Jefferson wrote in 1802 in reply to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. The Association was fearful that our country was on the brink of declaring the Congregationalist Church to be a “national church.” In his letter, President Jefferson wrote in part- “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” As you can see, Mr. Jefferson’s words have been misinterpreted/taken out of context to fit modern-day people’s political views.
As all of you know, I despise politics so while this particular debate rages on, I will continue to recognize that our individual right to worship is safeguarded by the First Amendment of the Constitution which reads this way - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” Celebrate our freedoms, but keep in mind the most important freedom of all - “freedom from slavery to sin” which comes to us through our faith in God’s gift of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection. With all of this in mind, I have selected our Life Verse for July from the Gospel According to John 8:36- “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.
It’s worth pondering!