The Fourth of July
Second, let us give thanks for the commitments, offerings, and sacrifices of our predecessors -- pacifists, soldiers, founding parents, and others who have shaped our national life. In our time, we are called to carry on their highest values. As I stated in my reflections on Memorial Day, it is contrary to the spirit of national holidays, celebrating the commitments of our predecessors, to elevate material gain, tax protests, and absolute rights to property and firearms over the well-being of the community. National holidays call us to common cause, not isolated individualism.
Third, let us affirm the diversity of our nation as a blessing and gift. All of us, including the native peoples, came from other lands. Affirming diversity in ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, is at the heart of our nation's ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (overall well-being). In a time of circling the wagons around "me and mine," we need to remember that we are a nation of immigrants. Communal synergy emerges in the integration of diversity with loyalty to a common cause.
Fourth, let us affirm global interdependence. We are all interconnected, and while national sovereignty is important and should be preserved from terrorist and aggressor, we are part of a community of nations, each of which is gifted.
Fifth, let us recall that other people love their lands as much as we love the USA. We are not unique in our love of our land, but share this even with our "enemies." These days we need to seek and embrace more self-transcendence and less parochialism in our national life.
Sixth, we need to make a commitment to world loyalty as well as national loyalty. The prophetic tradition and the teachings of Jesus call us beyond our borders. Our love of our country calls us to be partners in a greater cause -- especially in light of global climate change, oil spills, and natural disasters -- to be God's partners in healing the earth.
Wise pastors recognize their congregants' values, but invite them to imagine a larger world and then work to achieve it -- the "impossible possibility" of justice, planetary health, and Shalom.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty one books, including Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for lectures, workshops, and retreats.