Sunday, July 1st, 2018
Readings Isaiah 32:1-5,16-18; Psalm 85:7-13; Colossians 3:12-17; John 15:12-17
Collect Almighty God, whose wisdom and whose love are over all, accept the prayers we offer for our nation. Give integrity to its citizens and wisdom to those in authority, that harmony and justice may be secured in obedience to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer over the Gifts
Judge eternal, accept all we offer you this day, and grant to our nation unity and peace. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
Prayer after Communion
God of love, may we who have taken holy things grow in unity and peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
[THE FIRST LESSON IS WRITTEN IN THE 32nd CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.]
See, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule with justice.
Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind,
a covert from the tempest,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed,
and the ears of those who have hearing will listen.
The minds of the rash will have good judgement,
and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly.
A fool will no longer be called noble,
nor a villain be said to be honourable.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.
HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
[HERE ENDETH THE FIRST LESSSON.]
THANKS BE TO GOD. Isaiah 32:1-5,16-18
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF ACTS
[THE SECOND LESSON IS WRITTEN IN THE 3rd CHAPTER OF THE LETTER OF SAINT PAUL TO THE COLOSSIANS, BEGINNING AT THE 12TH VERSE.]
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
[HERE ENDETH THE SECOND LESSSON.]
THANKS BE TO GOD. Colossians 3:12-17
THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
[THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 15TH CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN, BEGINNING AT THE 12TH VERSE. GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.]
[Jesus said] ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST. [PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST]
Let us pray.
Holy God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.
So, National Holidays are an awkward thing in Church, aren’t they?
There is good reason to affirm the Anabaptist ideals about the separation of church and state, as it recognizes the dangers of too-close ties between Christianity and the government. It’s an ideal that never really existed in Canada, it remains true that our Head of State and the Supreme Governor our church are one and the same person. Even as late as the writing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms we find God at the centre of the instruments of our nations unity – Queen and Constitution.
The doctrine of divine omnipresence (that is, of God being everywhere), ironically, opens the door for experiencing holiness in the midst of national days of celebration and self-congratulation.
If God is present in all things, then the affairs of state, celebrating space as well as time, find God in the midst of them. The history of Israel demonstrates how far nations can fall from God’s purposes for communal life; but it also affirms the prophetic vision of healthy and just communities and nations.
The ever-present God moves through every aspect of our lives. There are no godless zones, and that includes nations, governments, peacemaking, and civic service. Despite our personal and communal turning away from God’s vision of Shalom, God still moves through our lives – bidden or unbidden, calling us to larger visions of ourselves and of our communities. Healthy spiritual formation involves infusing the “secular” with spiritual values, rather than reducing the spiritual to the secular.
Still, I struggle to find the right balance of differentiation and critique, and affirmation and celebration, when it comes to the intersection of nation and church, especially in terms of national holidays.
Given the fact that most of us see a relationship between God and country, – I’m told by wise colleagues that I trust, that the wise preacher will seek to affirm national holidays while calling the congregation to go beyond nationalism and empire toward a just and peaceful realm.
Canada Day – Dominion Day involves the recognition of important moments in our nation’s story and the gifts we have received as citizens of our nation. While there is much to repent (and realities of Indigenous genocide and legal slavery until 1834 as well as the demonstrable upsurge in racism and anti-immigrant sentiments should call us to confession and not denial), there is also much to celebrate in our — and every nation’s — national adventure.
Our national parents were not perfect and from the vantage point of over 150 years, their “sins” are obvious to us. But we might suspect that, in light of a higher vision of national life and global loyalty, our “sins,” many of which are taken for granted as the norm, will be obvious to our successors. We may hope to receive as kind judgment from our successors as we give to our predecessors. We are all the children of our time and this is the source of both moral limitation and the possibility of moral achievement.
In the spirit of not “too much” and “not too” little, when it comes to the relationship of church and national holidays, let’s place our national celebration in light of the God’s present and future vision for God’s creation.
Let’s be at prayer for our political leaders. But, our calling is to pray that our leaders find wisdom and are guided by the Holy Spirit. We can pray for national wisdom and healing, reflected in commitment to dialogue, truth telling, and common cause.
Let’s give thanks for the commitments, offerings, and sacrifices of our predecessors — pacifists, soldiers, founding parents, and others who have shaped our national life. In our time, we are called to carry on their highest values. It is contrary to the spirit of national holidays, that celebrate the commitments of our predecessors, to elevate material gain or national exceptionalism. National holidays call us to common cause, not isolated individualism.
Let us affirm the diversity of our nation as a blessing and gift. All of us, as the scriptures reinforce, descend from common ancestors and that first couple in the Garden.
Affirming diversity in ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, is at the heart of our nation’s political ideals. In a time of circling the wagons around “me and mine,” we need to remember that we are a nation of immigrants living on questionably acquired land.
Let us affirm global interdependence. We are all interconnected, and are part of a community of nations, each of which is gifted.
Let us recall that we are not unique in our love of our land, but share this even with our “enemies.” These days we need to seek and embrace more interdependence and less parochialism in our national life.
Let us make a commitment to world loyalty as well as national loyalty. The prophetic tradition and the teachings of Jesus call us beyond our borders. Our love of our country calls us to be partners in a greater cause — especially in light of global trade wars, climate change, oil spills, and natural disasters — to be God’s partners in healing the earth.
I invite you to imagine a larger, peaceable world and then work to achieve it — the “impossible possibility” of justice, ecological health, and peace.
Let us pray.
Draw your Church together, O Lord, into one great company of disciples, together following our Lord Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving him in his mission to the world, and together witnessing to his love in every corner of our lives. We ask this in his name and for his sake.
Adapted from http://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2010/06/fourth-of-july-celebrating-independence-and-interdependence.aspx?p=2