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St. Paul tells us that Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob all, “confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.” They looked around at where they lived and all that they had and knew that something was missing. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to put their finger on it, perhaps it was just a feeling of unease, but there was a yearning within for their true home.
C.S. Lewis was one who also wrote of this feeling: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death…” (Mere Christianity)
Today, we celebrated the 242nd birthday of our country. Even so, I suspect that even if you believe everything is right, you still look around with the same feelings that Lewis expressed. Therefore, instead of ranting against or pouring on accolades for our current home, I would like for us to pray for this country as we await our admittance into that Heavenly one. For as a Christian people, we know, regardless of outward appearances, Our God reigns. Would you please join me in turning to page 838 of the Book of Common Prayer.
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 great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them.
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.
We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light.
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.
That we might act as our Savior’s disciples in the fulfillment of this great work, I offer you the words of St. Francis that they may serve as a guide:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace:
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.