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Apparently, I am out of the loop on the events around here. I did not realize there would be fireworks last night. But boy, were there fireworks!
The fireworks, and all the other great events we enjoy today, are in commemoration and celebration of our Independence from Great Britain, of the many freedoms we enjoy, and in honor of all the many sacrifices that have been made to preserve these freedoms.
Two points this morning.
First of all, we must remain vigilant and watch over these freedoms. Things are fairly comfortable and stable in our country right now. But as we watch fireworks exploding overhead, let’s forget the unfortunate fact that many mortars, bullets, and bombs have been spent to give us this great nation. Keep in mind that, in our world, such liberties as we enjoy, and such stability, are and have been rare, and it is not guaranteed that they will endure.
In fact, in light of recent supreme court decisions, health care laws, and other laws enacted by our government, our first freedom – that of religious liberty, supposedly guaranteed in the first amendment, is being eroded away. We need to do everything we can at the ballot box, in communicating with our civil leaders, and in prayer, to ensure that America remains the great nation that it is.
Secondly, we must also recall that no matter what happens in this world and nation, the deepest happiness and fulfillment is not found in this life. It is not found in a mere lack of restraints placed upon us, or in wealth, or health. Today’s Gospel was the list of Beatitudes – Jesus’ plan for human happiness. It’s not what we expect: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are they who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute your .... Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
So today we thank the Lord for the many blessings we enjoy in our great nation. We are reminded that we must not take them for granted. And, finally, we are reminded that our deepest happiness is in not found in political structures and freedoms, great as those may be, but in God alone.
P.S.: The photo above was taken in 2005 at the state capitol in Bismarck.