The date was July 3, 1776. John Adams stated that America’s independence, to be declared the next day, should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
The next year, Philadelphia commemorated Independence Day with 13 rockets. You might say that Fourth of July fireworks celebrations have progressed in the years since. Saturday’s Macy’s display in New York City featured 40,000 effects in 25 minutes. Washington, D.C. celebrated with pyrotechnics over the reflecting pool in front of the Washington Monument. Nashville claimed that their Fourth of July fireworks were “the biggest in the country.” Boston’s fireworks over the Charles River were seen by 500,000 people. Half a million people also came to Addison Circle Park, a suburb of Dallas, where 3,500 pounds of fireworks were used for a 30-minute display.
Now the Fourth of July fireworks are over for another year. How can we continue to love and serve our nation? (Tweet this) By praying for her people and her leaders. Here’s my prayer list for America today.
First, I’m praying for racial reconciliation.
In a recent Cultural Commentary, I agreed with Russell Moore’s call for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol grounds, and stated my hope that other states and corporations take similar measures. A very dear friend responded:
“When it comes to flags, it seems we’re quick to focus on the Confederate battle flag, make our points, and then think the issue is resolved. Reality is that racism is a national problem that—if we’re honest—transcends north or south. Neither the Confederate battle flag, nor any of the other Confederate banners, ever flew from even one slave ship. If you look at the top of any flagpole on any US government facility today, you WILL see the flag that flew from myriad slave ships: the Stars and Stripes . . . which should be a reminder that it is not just we Southerners who are complicit in the sin of racism, but our entire nation. We need national—not just Confederate—repentance on this sinful issue.”
My friend is right. Anglos who are prejudiced toward African-Americans or Hispanics need to repent. As do African-Americans who are prejudiced toward Anglos or Hispanics. As do Hispanics who are prejudiced toward Anglos or African-Americans. As do those of any ethnicity who are prejudiced against other ethnicities. But human words cannot change human hearts. Racism will ultimately be cured by the One who made and loves us all. The closer we draw to him, the closer we draw to each other.
Second, I’m praying for our leaders to lead biblically.
President Obama has 563 more days in office. I’m praying for him to seek God’s word and will for his every decision and action. And I’m praying for those running for his office to be men and women of God as well. Imagine what would happen if America’s leaders were so submitted to God’s Spirit that they demonstrated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control every day (Galatians 5:22). Imagine what would happen if America’s people did the same.
God wants us to love and serve our nation every day. Fireworks are fun while they last, but Spirit works are eternal.