Keeping the 4th Happy

Proper 9 / July 6, 2014 –

Happy 4th of July! I’m ready for it. A 4 day work week. Smoked brisket ordered and on the heat at Uncle Mark’s BBQ. Mega fireworks in hand to shoot all over my neighbor’s yard. Lee Greenwood’s “I Love the USA” ready to go on the IPOD. Yard mowed. Hair cut. Swim trunks pressed. It’s gonna be a Happy 4th in Tomball, TX!

We go all out to make the 4th a happy break in our summer. Some of us will travel a great distance, blow a whole pay check on bottle rockets, eat watermelon until we can’t leave the bathroom, and listen to patriotic music that we don’t really know the words of, but try to sing anyway. We do it because it is our nation’s birthday and that is a big deal. It should be. If July the 4th didn’t mean independence for us then we would be planning our tea time selection (Earl Grey) and watching Wimbledon (Gross!). It is good to be American and we should get our party on and make the day as hap-hap-happy as possible. Keeping the 4th happy will be my priority on the 4th so don’t get near me if you don’t want happiness spilled all over you.

It is up to us to keep it happy. Without effort and intentional action it will be just another day. Sure we will likely be off from work and have some insanely rich food which are always good things. The 4th is the 4th and we can do, eat, act anyway we want to. We make it happy or unhappy, memorable or uneventful, “off the hook” or “on the chain” with our 300 million brothers and sisters. We are to remember the 4th of July and keep it happy so that we never forget the incredible blessing it is to be a free people under God. Remembering the sacrifice of those who died for our freedom and keeping freedom alive (and well) in every generation is our honor and duty as a nation – not just one day a year, but every single day.

 But now that I think about it…

Remembering and keeping are not only duties of a patriot. They are actions of the faithful. Not just for high, Holy days like Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, or Pentecost that comes one day a year. Each day is chance to live gratefully/faithfully unto God for caring for us in creation, gathering us in salvation through Christ , and chasing us constantly with His mercy giving us hope, purpose, help, wholeness. If we rest, relax and reward ourselves one day a year for being American, shouldn’t we pause more often and celebrate what being a child of God means to us and our future?

I have an idea. Let’s set aside one day a week from this day forward to rest and be renewed for good, Godly living. Let’s do it on Sunday since most of us are off anyway and usually gather with our friends at church and have a big meal in the middle of the day. Sunday is different in schedule and activity than any other day in our week. We even eat dessert after lunch on that day and carry no guilt over it. It is a day worth living and comes around the corner every 7 days. The only thing missing – it seems to me – is our consideration of what God has done, what God is doing, and what that means for us. Thinking on those things will make us happier than any 4th of July pic-nic we ever plan or attend. Because we live in a land where we are free to gather to express religion and we have a family/cultural tradition that includes the church and Sunday gatherings, all that is missing is the recognition of why we believe and do what we believe and do. In other words, let’s remember and keep what has already been offered to us through American Christian tradition (and a greater faith tradition), but instead of doing it to make us happy, let’s set our purpose higher. Let’s take one day a week and sit down with God, quiet our souls, and ask God to make us ready to keep living for His glory. Instead of being loud and nationwide, let’s be reserved, reflective, and resolved. We will call it the Sabbath and it will be like no other day of the week for us!

Who is in?

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)


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