I have always been a “ponderer” and a “brooder.” I “ponder” ideas and issues for a long time,
“brood over” them ... and then usually reach a conclusion at the last minute or, at least, when I’m under pressure. This is my normal
approach to sermon writing, which is why I rarely have a title and text, much less an outline (!), until Friday morning of most weeks.
The above has been no less true this week shortened by a 4-day work week with the observance of Independence Day on Friday when the church office
will be closed. Friday has become Thursday, the pressure is on ... and I find myself trying to make sense of recent events in our country as we celebrate
our Independence this weekend.
The famous speeches authored by Abraham Lincoln are some of my favorites and speak in many ways to the painful past, the challenging present and the
hopeful future during our nation’s most divisive era. And while our country today is not engaged in a similar battle as bloody as The Civil War, the
first decades of the 21st Century find us terribly divided and frighteningly afraid to discuss (even talk!) with others who hold views and
opinions diametrically opposed to ones we as individuals (or The Church) cherish and hold dear. Times like these are certainly not unique to the American
republic, but go back to the very beginning and certainly appear in the early days of ancient Israel during the time of Moses, Joshua, the Judges and the
days of the Israelite monarchy.
Two weeks ago in my sermon “Unforgettable,” I referenced President Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address (1861) and his
striking images of “mystic chords and better angels” which informed my first Independence Day weekend sermon in this church 10 years
ago (2005). I have decided to revisit those words and that old sermon this Sunday in light of recent events, yet joining to it the words of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
Happy Independence Day wherever you are this weekend; and if in Belmont I hope to see you in Sunday School and Worship.
God'w grace and peace to you!