This  weekend in worship we are recognizing  Independence Day with the color guard bringing the American Flag into the sanctuary and singing patriotic songs to remind us of the freedom that we have as citizens of this country.  Not only do we have political freedom but also the freedom to gather together today and worship God without fear.

The Declaration of Independence also states that “all [people] are created equal.” It doesn’t say born equal — it says created equal. Creation requires a divine Creator, and as Christians we believe that “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

This weekend is the perfect time to look at ourselves as people created in the image of God, with tremendous intellectual, spiritual and relational gifts.  Essentially, we are brothers and sisters, created in the image of God. When we believe this, only then can we reach out to each other with love and compassion and understanding, accepting each other as the Lord accepts each one of us.

God of grace and glory, as we continue to celebrate the birth of our nation, it is with grateful hearts that we remember our ancestors. We give thanks for all the people who have fought for and defended our freedom throughout the years. We remember, as well, those whom we harmed as we built our country — the Native Americans and the Africans who were enslaved. We ask your guidance as we continue to learn how to live together as a country made up of people of many different ethnicities and faiths. Help us believe that we are truly sisters and brothers each created in your image.

 We are blessed with an amazing variety of geography across our land, the awesome redwoods, our coastlines, vast plains, majestic mountains and deserts. Help us protect each of these different environments so the generations to come can enjoy their beauty.

Help us not take our freedom for granted — remembering that there are still too many people throughout the world who don’t share the luxuries of freedom we consider basic rights, such as speech and religion. May we ever remember, though, our most precious freedom: “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” Thanks be to God. Amen.

Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer