From Mother Megan:
I am writing this the day before Independence Day, while keeping one eye on the news. The news, as I'm sure you know, is still blaring the frightening and despairing as it does--but on this occasion, it seems more dire, because even the celebration of the foundation of the country seems difficult, this year.
When I was a child, my family would drive to Colonial Williamsburg for the fireworks on July 4th. Someone would read the Declaration of Independence from the Governor's Palace (a decided anachronism) and the fife and drum corps would play merrily. Cannons would fire, fireworks explode over the Colonial capital. I loved it; it felt simple and easy. Rebellion made logical.
As I grew older, I learned that it wasn't, of course. It was far from simple, easy, or logical. The enslaved people who kept Williamsburg running were not extended the rights promised in the Declaration, despite their own efforts to secure them (Gabriel's Rebellion being a prime example, right after the Revolution.) Women were still decidedly second-class citizens. And there were many who thought rebellion against the Crown was literally a sin against God--including many in the Anglican Church. Those who signed the Declaration, and fought for a new world, were neither sinless nor elected by the majority. They just had, to varying degrees, a desire for something better.
It can be tempting to hold onto that childlike image of a country founded by pure people, out of pure ideals, accorded to all. But that ideal keeps us from the work that God calls us to do--and it tempts us to place our faith and trust in a human-built country, rather than in God alone. Jesus often reminded his followers that no one was perfect; only God. And that our job on earth was to continually work for the Kingdom, because, in fact, it was never quite here. Our country espouses some admirable ideas, but also has always struggled to fully live them out. We, like the whole earth, remain a work in progress--sometimes moving forwards, sometimes backwards, sometimes stalling.
So, as you watch the fireworks this weekend, let us give thanks for those who have gone before and who have brought us all this far. And let us also promise each other and those who will come after us to keep working, with God's help.