Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Happy Independence Day!

Declaration_independence

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776”

 

There are two secular holidays that I love: USAmerican Independence Day and Thanksgiving. For me the rest of the secular holidays are just an opportunity to take some time off, and I would not miss them if they were not on the calendar. Independence Day and Thanksgiving, on the other hand, are days of celebrating God’s Blessings and remembering what it means to be an American. At least they are for me.

July 4th is a special date in in United States. Like Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of the calendar month of November, Independence Day is a guilt-free holiday filled with family, fun, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, apple pie and an occasional beer or a glass of wine.

Our Country (the United States of America) has been founded on the premise that it welcomes the best from around the world. We have become a great nation through embracing those that seek religious freedom and political tolerance, cultural acceptance and economic opportunities for anyone who is industrious and is willing to work hard.

While we are not perfect, the United States of America is a pretty wonderful place to live in for many reasons.

We have religious freedom and separation of church and state. This right is very important to me because I was raised in a place where there was no freedom of consciousness or religion. My United States passport does not have a line specifying my ethnic origin and/or religious affiliation in addition to my citizenship. It is important because it makes it unlikely for my fellow citizens to look at my passport and then point a gun to my head. In case you are wondering, the threat of a gun to anyone’s head is not an enjoyable way to live.

By contrast, growing up I was not taught how to think, I was told what to think. Growing up there was almost a stigma related to my ethnic origin attached to my person. Growing up, in every election we always had ONLY ONE candidate. In the United States of America we have candidates debating their vision and hopes for what they will accomplish while in office. In this country we challenge people/voters to think and make decisions for themselves.

We still have certain populations within our nation that can claim persecution and oppression (and rightfully so) based on ethnic, socio-economic or political background. Great strides need to be made in this area and while it is not going to be easy, at least the issues are on the table and we exchange words and ideas instead of bullets.

In our country we enjoy unparalleled economic opportunities. I realize that there is a huge chasm in our society that is based on the educational background of individuals; after all education is what opens doors for future opportunities for advancement. As a country we no longer offer relevant education for all. Education is only available to those who are able to afford it financially. By doing that, we are cutting the branch that we are sitting on because the future competitiveness in the world economy will depend on who has the most educated, imaginative, hard-working and industrious work force.

Freedom is easy to take for granted when we have it. It is easy to take freedom for granted when you never knew what it is like NOT to be free.

As we celebrate Independence Day on July 4, 2014, we are standing on the shoulders of previous generations, and we are enjoying the fruits of their vision, their desire to build a better life for future generations, their hard work and accomplishments. It is a wonderful legacy, and my hope and prayer for our country is that we continue carrying it forward.

My hope and prayer for the churches that I currently pastor, Christ United Methodist Church and Worton United Methodist Church (listed in alphabetical order), is that our communities find a way to be instruments of reconciliation in our divided world, and challenge themselves and our neighbors to be the best versions of what God created us to be.

To God Be the Glory and May God Bless the USA!

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