4th of July 7/3/16 Epiphany, Norfolk

Well – we’ve made it, as a nation

to another 4th of July.

And it’s really a special holiday for us.

Of course –

it celebrates our gaining our independence

from the English.

It’s especially important

to this geographical area –

because so much of it happened

right here.

St. Paul’s Church downtown –

has a canon ball in it –

shot by Lord Dunmore –

at the bombardment of Norfolk.

Troops may have walked

right through our present day churchyard.

And it’s important to our Church –

because our roots were

the Church of England.

And we came very close to dying out –

as the British were trounced –

and it became “disloyal”

to be part of the “Anglican Church” –

or the Church of England.

The celebration of freedom

from even a benevolent power –

is always a joyful remembrance.

Even though a lot of people died

in the Revolutionary War –

the results outweighed the loss of life.

We were suddenly

a fiercely free nation.

We would never be told again

what to do.

But with that freedom –

came cost.

Now that we were free –

what were we going to do

with that freedom?

We all know –

that a rudimentary government was formed –

and the tedious process began –

of determining

how we would live out our lives as a nation.

It was not all peace,

and quiet,

and happiness.

In fact –

the bickering was pretty brutal.

Strong egos had risen

to positions of power.

And they were sometimes very noisy –

and sometimes very obstructionist.

But somehow –

they put something together

that seemed to work –

for about 90 years.

Then it all fell apart.

The result was a Civil War –

or the War Between the States –

or – that wonderful Southern euphemism –

“The Great Unpleasantness.”

I still cannot believe

that as a young nation –

just about 90 years old –

we slaughtered each other –

our own people –

our own families and relatives.

Women and children would go out to the battle field

to watch their husbands and fathers –

shoot each other –

kill each other.

Then the women and children

would gather their dead

and bury them –

as best they could.

I cannot wrap my mind around –

this taking place –

right here on the land

on which our homes sit.

How could we be so stupid?

How could we let our passions

get so out of hand?

We killed 2% of our own population –

620,000 of our own people –

more Americans

than died in WWI and WWII together.

And it wasn’t terrorists.

It wasn’t Muslims.

It wasn’t Isis.

It was Ebola.

We did it to ourselves.

Well – the amazing thing to me is –

that our ancestors

somehow put it back together –

and began building

the great industrial force –

the great military power –

the great scientific brain pool –

the great world bread basket –

and probably –

one of the most stable governments

in the present world.  – –

Well – that brings us to the present.

But this year

has been a tough year

for our still young nation –

just 240 years old –

a little over 3 of my life spans.

We’ve got “hot spots” all over the world –

and there’s not a lot we can do

about most of them.

Terrorism is something

that we’re apparently

just going to have to keep living with –

and trying to outfox

when we can.

Some of the great nations around the world

are having major issues

dealing with refugees

dealing with the European Union –

dealing with labor unrest –

dealing with racial and ethnic issues.

It’s a dangerous world out there.

And then –

there’s the home front.

It looks pretty good on the surface.

The stock market is up

and doing well.

Unemployment figures

are pretty good.

The Gross National Product

is impressive.

There is food for our people –

and a significant part

of the world population.

Inflation and interest rates

are down.

More people are getting health care –

than ever before.

Not everyone –

but it’s better.

It looks pretty good.

But then there are these shootings –

individual and mass shootings –

right here on our own streets.

Our people are killing each other out there –

not just in Ferguson –

but right here in Norfolk.

EVERYONE wants “the violence to stop.”

But how do you stop it?

Do we just wait

for all the bad guys

to kill each other off?

We have a major problem.

And –

then there is congress.

Whether you’re Republican,

Democrat,

or Independent –

we all know

that Congress is not working.

Something has really got to change.

And it’s got to be through the ballot box.

But there’s something scary about that.

Just in the last week or two –

the British voted to pull out of

European Union.

I don’t know whether

it was the right decision –

or not.

But when it was announced

that a huge portion of the population

did not understand

what they were voting on –

it raised my eyebrows.

And Google announced

that the day after the voting –

the single largest query was –

“What is the European Union?”

And then they called for a “revote.”

“We didn’t know what we were doing –

so – let’s do it again.”

And this wasn’t

some crazy “back woods country.”

This was Britain.

Well – lest you think

that this a “doom and gloom homily” –

let me tell you –

I’ve traveled a significant part of the world –

not everywhere –

but a lot of places.

And there’s nowhere else I want to be.

I’ve seen some beautiful places –

like the Greek Isles.

You think I want to live in Greece?

No way.

St. Petersburg, Russia.

You think I want to be in Russia?

No way.

I could go down a long list of places –

and right here

is where I want to be.

But –

we have to be careful.

We almost destroyed ourselves from within –

once.

We can’t let it happen again.

As dangerous as this world is –

and as much harm as can be done to us

from outside –

our real danger is from within.

I want to read a portion

of our 1st Reading this morning –

from the Prophet Isaiah –

just the first sentence.

Know –

that when this was written –

Jerusalem had been laid waste –

the temple destroyed –

and the Jews were just being set free

from 70 years

of enslavement in Babylon.

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice with her in joy,

all you who mourn over her –

that you may nurse and be satisfied

from her consoling breast;

that you may drink deeply with delight

from her glorious bosom.”

Those are so easily

my thoughts for our country –

this Independence Day.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Posted July 6, 2016 by Church of the Epiphany in Epiphany Moments

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