Not like the brazen giant of Greek
fame--With conquering limbs astride from land to land;--Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with
a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide
welcome; her mild eyes command --The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"
cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free, --The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift
my lamp beside the golden door!" Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883
Every afternoon these days a family of finches come
to my house to frolic, dance, and pirouette in the birdbath. Other feathered
folk arrive to bathe in the morning and some late afternoons. Grackles usually
land in pairs, and then stage a battle with one another like we kids used to do playing “king of the mountain.”
Robins and cardinals come one at a time to soak and splash to their heart’s content.
Likewise, neighborhood squirrels show up for a drink any time of the day. They all teach me great lessons about true
faith and freedom. I watch them with great reverence and deep gratitude, knowing
His eye is on us all.
Each year at this time Americans celebrate the nation’s birthday. Never
before in my lifetime have I felt the fragile unity of our beloved land. I suspect
that many other Americans share my uneasiness.
I well remember another 4th of July when I was at work at Fort Dix, New Jersey, called there to assist all summer
in resettlement of Kosovar refugees. I drove that early morning to the landing
ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty. Standing at the base of The New Colossus
I read Emma Lazarus’ famous words that marked the unity that had always been the American ideal -- hospitality to strangers from all over the world. Studying Scripture recently, I read these words of
God Himself speaking to Moses: For the Lord your God is God of gods, and
Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality, and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and raiment.
And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” [ Deut 10:17-19]Only those who themselves
have been fatherless, orphans, refugees, left alone and lonely through death or divorce, betrayed, discarded , or homeless
can fully comprehend the unique and special love and caring that our heavenly Father has for them. Christians are called upon to have compassion and love for all of these....
Gentlemen may cry Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace....The next
gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field!
Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be
purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death! Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775, St. John’s Church, Richmond,
Calvary's cross and the empty tomb are our great Year of Jubilee! This is what we celebrate! A literal
rendering of Galatians 5:1 is, "For freedom Christ freed us." But the only ones "proclaiming" this are the children of God. This is no Fourth of July celebration. It is far greater! It is a year by year, day
by day "celebration" of victory in Christ! It is totally foreign to all sinners, till regenerated by the Spirit of God. And
Paul admonishes us, "Stand fast therefore in this liberty, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of slavery." "Stand fast"
indeed! "It is finished." "Blow loud the trumpet." "Christ is not here, but is risen." And some sweet day, "at the last day,"
even the graves of God's people will burst open, at Christ's return, and glorification of all the saints will occur, and we
shall then sing in eternal triumph, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your
sting?" [I Cor 1: 55]. William F. Bell in a sermon, Year of Jubilee.