For God and CountryPosted: July 2, 2010
While everyone knows that the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, you might not be aware that Independence Day is listed in the Episcopal Church calendar as a “Major Feast” day. This was not always the case. The General Convention of 1785 proposed “A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Inestimable Blessings of Religious and Civil Liberty” to be used on the Fourth of July. It was ultimately voted down due to the large number of Loyalist clergy and did not appear in the first American Prayer Book of 1789. Independence Day readings first appeared in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer but the day did not become a “Major Feast” until the current Prayer Book revision of 1979 — 203 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence!
Another little-known feature of the BCP is a litany of “Thanksgiving for the Nation.” As part of your devotion to “God and Country” on the Fourth of July, I encourage you to work this in. Hey, it’s a Sunday after all.
Almighty God, giver of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we often destroy them.
We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless
again and again.
Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.
We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them.