I'm not sure how my sermon--"How Should Christians Celebrate the Fourth of July?"--came across yesterday. It's a difficult thing to try to communicate the tension that exists when the claims upon us made by country and the Kingdom of God do not line up. Being thankful for the freedoms--especially the freedoms to assemble, protest and worship as we wish--is different, I believe, from endorsing and agreeing with everything our country has or will do. I'd welcome any feedback by those who heard it (as I do with any sermon).
In my sermon, I talked about an article by Ted Smith, a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, by the same title--yes, I blatantly ripped of my sermon title from his article--where he described the different ways he has thought about the holiday at different times in his life. His article is well worth the read and I feel sure I did not do it justice. Ted and I were in grad school together, and although I haven't communicated with him since I left the program, I feel sure he is the same prodoundly decent person I knew then.
Also, I ended my sermon talking about the Alabama tax reform efforts in 2003 that were kicked off by a lawyer and seminary student who wrote an article about the state tax laws based on a biblical perspective. She found the laws to be regressive and punitive towards the poorest in the state and rewarding of the richest property interests in the state. The conservative Republican governor was persuaded by the argument and launched a campaign targeting faith groups to help get the reform passed. Unfortunately, the reform effort failed due in large part to the fierce opposition of wealthy property owners and--wait for it, wait for it--the Christian Coalition of Alabama. If you'd like to read more about this startling example of Christians selling out the poor, click here and here.
Grace and Peace,