Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
What is the best way to celebrate the 4th of July?
· Put flags on the tombstones of veterans.
· Read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
· Visit Washington, D.C.
· Gather with family and eat hamburgers, brats, corn on the cob, and strawberry sundaes.
· Take a boat out on Lake Erie.
· Go to a patriotic concert.
· Watch fireworks.
· Go to an Indians game.
All of those are probably appropriate ways to recognize and celebrate our nation’s independence. However, I do think that when it comes to 4th of July celebrations, Linwood has it right!
Is there any better celebration of our nation’s birthday than a kid, decorating their bike with red, white, and blue, putting American flags on the handlebars or on the back, and with an unrestrained enthusiasm riding in a parade cheered by thousands (so it seems to them) of friends and neighbors?
But, you say, they have no idea of how precious our freedom really is! They have no idea of the cost of defending that freedom through the centuries! They have no idea of the ways that very freedom is being threatened at this time in history! Do they even know what the 4th of July is about?
The truth is that every great struggle, every great costly venture, every great battle where lives are put at risk, are not undertaken for the present, but for the future. If the fight and the cost were to only benefit ourselves, they would not be worth it. If we were the only beneficiaries of the battle, then most of us would back out. But if the struggle is for the future, for our children, and our children’s children, and even for generations we know that we shall never see, the cost is well worth it.
Last summer, Jan and I were privileged to take our two oldest grandchildren (both 10) to Washington, D.C. It was the first visit for both of them. They were very impressed. But, Jan and I also found ourselves reminded of many things. Two things caught our attention time and time again. First, how little the founders of this nation sought or cared about personal power. They were indeed public servants. And, the emphasis was on “servant.” Second, how committed they were to establishing a nation that would be a blessing to countless generations to come.
I believe that these two things were not an accident, but were the ramifications of the faith convictions of those founders. And, I also believe that these two things serve as examples and witnesses to us, the church of the 21st century.
The daily battle to be faithful is not a battle just for us or for today. It is to preserve and to pass on the faith to our children, our children’s children, and how ever many generations there will be until Christ returns. Is it important that I receive Christ’s love and grace and one day stand before Him and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”? Absolutely! But it is even more important that my life here is lived in such a way (faithfully, not perfectly!) that future generations also know the joy of His love and the hope and power of His Kingdom.
Obviously I am speculating here. But, I suspect that our founding fathers would find no 4th of July celebration that brings them greater joy than the Linwood 4th of July Parade.
And, I also suspect that nothing brings more joy to the saints of heaven than when another generation of children is singing, “Jesus loves me…” They don’t know all that that means. They have no idea of the cost paid by those who have gone before them. They don’t know what will be required of them to hold fast to that love in the years ahead. But that song is a witness to the faithfulness of men and women of faith who have gone before. And, when they have been faithful, another generation will also sing, “Jesus loves me.”
Praising God for the forefathers and mothers of this nation of the Christian faith!
Yours in Christ,
Linwood Park Pastor
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