On the Sunday closest to the 4th of July we always use the Lessons for Independence Day at All Saints Church.
We start with this Proclamation (between the Prelude and Opening Hymn:)
Minister: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
People: For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
We pray this Collect of the Day:
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And then we have an "extra-canonical reading" ... which this year was:
An excerpt from “What we love about America,”
by James Carroll, The Boston Globe, July 3, 2006
America began… as a half-formed and rough idea, but that idea became the meaning against which all life in this country has been measured ever since. And what is that idea? It comes to us by now as the brilliant cliché of the Fourth of July, but with stark simplicity it still defines the ground of our being: “All men are created equal.” That the idea is dynamic, propelling a permanent social transformation, is evident even in the way that word “men” strikes the ear as anachronistic now.
That Jefferson and the others were not thinking of women matters less than the fact that they established a principle that made the full inclusion of women inevitable. And so with those who owned no property, and those who were themselves owned property.
How new is this idea today? Its transforming work continues all around us. The US Supreme Court has faulted the Bush administration for its treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, implicitly affirming that one need not be a citizen of this nation to claim basic rights.
The foundational principle extends to enemy combatants. They, too, are created equal.
And so in other areas. US politics is obsessed with the question of the place of immigrants, legal and illegal. The mainstream argument takes for granted that even here liberalizing change is underway. Confronted with an “illegal” person, the law must still give primacy to personhood.
And, on another front, is it an accident that American Episcopalians are the ones challenging the world Anglican body on the question of equality for gays and lesbians?…
After all, to be an American traditionalist -- and isn’t this what we universally celebrate on the 4th of July? -- is to affirm the revolution.
Why yes, yes we do, don't we? Affirm the revolution, that is. And what a great reminder it is ... what a gift it is ... to have those words ringing in one's ears as one packs to head across the pond and participate in the ongoing process of proclaiming the Good News of the Creator whose truths we hold to be self-evident.
Long Live the Revolution!!