Happy July 4th

One of the things I enjoy about American holidays is the unity you see in grocery stores all across America. It’s the fourth of July! Everyone (virtually) is going to throw some burgers and/or hot dogs on the grill (or maybe down south they fry up some chicken). Everyone is going to make ice cream. It’s just impossible to do anything else. I know this is true because yesterday when I dashed into the grocery store, they were out of rock salt, and the sugar aisle looked as though it had been looted. I love this about America. The end of November we all buy our turkeys and dressing, but on the Fourth, we are cooking corn on the cob and slicing up the watermelon.  I’m not really sure who planned the menu or who passed the word around to us all, but we got it. This menu is one of the cultural lessons we faithfully teach our children and our children’s children. And though it is a good lesson (who could complain about a hamburger?), it is not promise-rich like the spiritual heritage we are passing on to the next generation. 

We teach our children how to live like Christians in much the same way that we teach them how to celebrate July 4th, one year at a time. But we have a weekly opportunity to show them how to celebrate, which gives us lots more practice (and we need it). This repetition is not so our children will be mindless participants in sabbath dinner or (far worse) worship, but so they will be really good at it. It’s funny that no one worries that we might celebrate the Fourth mindlessly, but I’m pretty sure most of us do.  We’ve got the liturgy down: picnic with all the trimmings, flag-waving, and fireworks. Our spiritual heritage is far richer, greater, wider, and more encompassing than a once-a-year party. As we celebrate the Lord’s Day week to week, year after year, we are teaching our children how to worship the Lord faithfully, so they can teach their children, and their children’s children. This is how God made us. And it is apparent to me on holidays like the Fourth, that Americans love liturgy and love to celebrate, especially when they know what is expected. So while you are cranking out the ice cream today, thank God for a great tradition on the Fourth. And keep cranking out the weekly sabbath celebrations. It is faithful teaching.

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4 thoughts on “Happy July 4th

  1. yes, no longer are we just teaching faithfulness to God outside of our home, by attending church. But now we are teaching faithfulness inside our home through our Sabbath dinner! Great, I got it!
    By the way, Kohl’s is having a big sale on table cloths and such. I was so blessed to find a set with cloth napkins and placemats for $11.00!!! 🙂

  2. Nancy,
    My name is Maggie and my husband and I are friends of the Harkin gang in Virginia. I’ve been enjoying your blog and drawing great encouragement from afar. Our family is stationed in Israel presently, where my husband works at the American Embassy. The Forth of July is a big occasion here starting with a night of festivities at the Ambassador’s residence and a couple picnics with all the traditional fixins’ follow later in the week. What struck me this year is how our traditions are enjoyed not only by Americans, but observed and enjoyed by the greater community, as well. As a matter of fact, many of our friends both from Israel and other nations represented here in the diplomatic community count this as a high point of their year. How much more, as Christians seeking to set aside and delight in the Sabbath, might we impact and draw in folks around us who don’t know the Lord of the Sabbath. Our weekly feasts are a wonderful way to share the Gospel in a way that is both winsome and non-threatening. For us it’s especially easy to do here since on Friday night practically everything in this whole country shuts down for Shabbot (Saturday is the day of worship here). We never know the impact we might have as we seek to faithfully (although imperfectly) celebrate His goodness to us. Just a thought:)

  3. In most areas of the country, neither cookouts/picnics on Thanksgiving or having “the troops” indoors for a large oven cooked meal on the fourth would work out well.

    You make excellent points.

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