Dear PPPC –

245 years. That’s the length of this ongoing experiment known as the United States of America. On Monday, we will celebrate our 246th birthday.

We are eager to celebrate, once again, what it means to live in a nation committed from its founding, to freedom. We are eager to give thanks for our many freedoms, freedoms that we know so many around the world live without. It is my personal practice – and I would invite you to do the same – to pray for the service men and women of our country during the fireworks displays: giving thanks for those who give of their entire lives, sacrificing everything, for the protection of those freedoms.

Yet, our democracy, our republic, seems more fragile than ever before.

So then, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to be a citizen of the United States? Believers have been wrestling with this question since our nation’s founding and it is our turn to do so in our time.

Here are two things to keep in mind while you wrestle:

#1: When we come to church, we are rarely neutral. We can’t just leave our opinions, our thoughts, our identities, and our experiences at the door. Likewise, we cannot leave our faith inside the sanctuary at the end of worship. To say our lives don’t inform our faith would be a lie. To say our faith doesn’t inform our lives would be a tragedy. And yet, we all come to church because wherever you fall on our political spectrum, you are seeking a relationship with God.

#2: God does not have a national allegiance and to claim otherwise is a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is perhaps the most important reminder and, for some of us, the hardest to hear. Perhaps it is difficult to hear because while God has no national allegiance, we do. We are citizens of particular countries. We have political allegiances. We have opinions, ideas, and we live out our faith in the context of the nation where we live. Perhaps it is difficult to hear because you consider yourself a person of deep faith and of deep patriotism. Perhaps it is difficult to hear, as it requires us to admit we have misconstrued the truth of “God loves us” to the untruth of “God is always on my side and I am always right.” Whatever the reason, it is important to keep this truth before you as you wrestle.

There’s an inscription drawn from Luke 12 above the doors to the Princeton Seminary Library: To whom much is given, of them, much will be required. We live in a nation founded on the idea of freedom and yet for as long as we have existed, there have always been folks among us who are not yet free. Our nation’s 246th year is not an accomplishment, it is a gift. A gift which will require much from us, once again, as followers of Jesus Christ.

May you and yours have a safe and fun Fourth of July weekend. See you in church.

Be gentle with yourselves and one another,
Pastor Molly