Jul 4 – Independence Day

Illumination - Independence Day

Independence Day
United States of America
4 July 1776

click here for books about Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence


 

Suggested Readings from the Lectionary Page

Deuteronomy 10:17-21
Hebrews 11:8-16
Matthew 5:43-48
Psalm 145 or 145:1-9


Prayers for National Life (from the Book of Common Prayer)

18. For our Country

See also Various Occasions no. 17.

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil
Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We
commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided
by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant
to the President of the United States, the Governor of this
State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom
and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the
love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful
of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

20. For Congress or a State Legislature

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and
gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee so to guide
and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress
assembled (or in the Legislature of this State, or Common-
wealth), that they may enact such laws as shall please thee,
to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of this people;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

21. For Courts of Justice

Almighty God, who sittest in the throne judging right: We
humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the
magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of
wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth,
and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone;
through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son our
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

22. For Sound Government

The responses in italics may be omitted.

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we
may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to
other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors
of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative
authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their
duties.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

 

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our
laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and
foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to
fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding
and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and
justice served.
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to
accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they
may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for
the well-being of our society; that we may serve you
faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.
For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as
head above all. Amen.

23. For Local Government

Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those
who hold office in this State (Commonwealth, City, County,
Town, ____________) the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice;
that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their
offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

24. For an Election

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers
and privileges: Guide the people of the United States (or of
this community) in the election of officials and representatives;
that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of
all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your
purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

25. For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and
keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home
and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly
grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give
them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant
them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

26. For those who suffer for the sake of Conscience

O God our Father, whose Son forgave his enemies while he
was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer
for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them
from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them
from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from
despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their
witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be
cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus
Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen.

 


From the Satucket Lectionary

On 2 July 1776, the Continental Congress, comprising delegates sent by the legislatures of the thirteen colonies, voted to declare complete independence from British rule, and on 4 July the formal wording of the declaration (principally the work of Thomas Jefferson) was approved and the document signed.

Signing of the Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull

   When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation upon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are long accustomed. But [our grievances are neither light nor transient, and a list of them follows....]
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

English: marcelina fernandez signature. Españo...

English: marcelina fernandez signature. Español: Firma de marcelina fernandez. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision to seek independence rather than simply a restoration of the colonists’ traditional rights as British subjects did not come readily or suddenly. Armies had been in the field for more than a year before the Declaration, and for another two years afterward, the officers of the Continental Army drank his Majesty’s health at every mess. But the Declaration was rightly acknowledged as crucial. It speaks in terms of the Natural Law and God-given principles of justice and right, in language that, as one (British) writer has said, combines great prose, great politics, and great theology.

FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 10:17-21
(“When you have entered the homeland that God gives you, serve Him
faithfully. Deal generously with the alien and the homeless, for you
were homeless aliens in the land of Egypt.”)

PSALM 145
(“One generation shall declare thy works unto another.”)

EPISTLE: Hebrews 11:8-16
(Abraham and the other saints of old recognized that their true and
abiding homeland is not on earth, but awaits them in Heaven.)

GOSPEL: Matthew 5:43-48
(“Love your enemies…. Your Father in Heaven makes the sun rise on
the evil and the good….”)

 

by James Kiefer

 

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