Well it happened again.
I was asked to deliver another invocation at a civil event, this time it’s the Independence Day celebrations in nearby Riverton Park following the parade.
Now, if you’ve been a reader of my blog you know how uncomfortable such invitations make me. I really do not like mixing civil and revealed religion.
Still, I am a semi-public figure 1 in this area and it’s an honor to be considered. I guess I’ve been around long enough that even a natural hermit like myself has ended up on the radar. That’s a good thing I’ll simply have to try to get used to.
This setting is much different than the Memorial Day remembrance I participated in recently, as that commemoration has deliberately somber tones. On the contrary, the celebration for Independence day is a lot less self-reflective, it doesn’t lead itself to an invocation because I step in to a party which is already in progress.
So, how do I manage to say something valuable without either wrongfully blending Christianity with United States Civil Religion or looking like I’m trying to throw a damper on the party?
Below is the draft of what I’ll say later. It’s decidedly non-religious, because I’m concerned about dishonoring God, but I can’t help but allow some religious lingo to slip in. It’s the air I breathe, after all. At any rate, here it is,
May we who are gathered here remember.
May we remember the struggle which lead to the founding of this country.
May we remember this country’s triumphs of freedom over oppression, and justice over vengeance.
May we remember both our long failures to live up to the ideals promised in our Declaration of Independence, and the joy we experience as a people when we move closer to the horizon at which we were pointed by our founders.
May we, as a people, look to that horizon and remember the dream upon which this country was founded – that all humanity is created equal.
May we learn anew, again and again and again, this founding freedom is strongest not when hoarded, but when offered freely as far as we can stretch the arms of our embrace.
And may today’s celebrations evoke in us an image of what our founders longed for us to become.
- Just stop, Linda, “semi-public” is all you’re getting from me (sorry for the inside conversation, folks, but she knows who she is). ↩