Pastoral Post

Friends:

We will observe and celebrate Independence Day this week; and, as we do, I offer you these beautiful lines from a prayer written a few years ago by my colleague Jim Sommerville, who is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA.  

O God, you who birthed a nation from a barren womb

And made your covenant with a band of runaway slaves;

You who have watched over the rise and fall of every nation

Great and small, near and far, before and since;

You who were in that stuffy room in Philadelphia

when this nation declared its independence. Be with us now.

 

Help us see things as you see them.

From your point of view there are no national boundaries,

No ugly black lines on the face of the globe.

From your point of view the greatness of any nation

Is not measured by its gross national product or its military strength,

But by the way its people embrace your truths

And love the things you love.

 

And so, even as we strike up the band and join the parade,

As we light the fuses of firecrackers and celebrate our cherished independence,

We ask that you would teach us the discipline of responsibility

So that we may use our freedom in ways that help and heal

Rather than hurt and destroy.

 

We pray that as a people we may become what you promised to Abraham:

A nation by whom all the nations of the world are blessed.

May the people of Asia and Africa, Europe and South America

Soon be able to say, if not already, “Thank God for America,”

Even as we thank you, O God, for what is,

And look forward by faith to what will be

When your kingdom comes, and your will is done,

On earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

 

I’m grateful for Jim’s prayer and for the guidance it gives us as we reflect on the gifts and responsibilities of our nation.

 

Grace and peace,

Guy