I stuck around Rockford, Illinois for a few months after my internship to be their summer minister, which meant that I had to preach a sermon around the Fourth of July. I made some crack about this being the reason ministers took the summer off–so they wouldn’t have to wrack their brains trying to put together a sermon that celebrated the United States in spite of our history of oppression and aggression. I’m not quite sure what I ended up preaching about myself, but I’m sure it wasn’t as thoughtful as what Rabbi Michael Lerner and the folks at Tikkun magazine have come up with. Check out their Interdependence Day Celebration [PDF], which was published in the latest issue of the magazine. As they say, “There is much worth celebrating in American history that deserves attention on July 4th, despite the current depravity of those who lead this country, though the celebration-worthy aspects of our society are rarely the focus of the public events.”
I know it’s a little late for this year’s celebration, but I think it would be great if congregational leaders could have material similar to the Tikkun stuff available for families to use on their own, material that put the holiday in a liberal religious/spiritual progressive perspective. Even better, congregations could plan to hold thier own Fourth of July celebrations. The idea of summertime being downtime in our religious communities is due for some serious reconsideration. Just because 19th century Bostonians needed to beat the heat and escape to Maine in the summertime doesn’t mean we should continue the practice. Helping families live their liberal faith on a daily basis is a 24/7/365 obligation. That doesn’t mean religious professionals need to be on duty all the time, but we need to constantly be using the technology available to us (like blogs) to share our faith and strengthen our families.