Celebrating Our Independence

Pastor Mitch McDonald, Sun Lakes Community Church

As you receive this July edition of the Splash, we all know that there are many activities going on celebrating our nation’s independence. I would like to invite you to one of these celebrations at our church on Sunday, July 3. We will be having a Community Barbeque at 6 p.m. while we gather to enjoy some hot dogs, hamburgers, and an enjoyable time of singing as we celebrate our nation’s freedom.

We know that our Independence Day celebrations originated with the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and while we are looking forward to enjoying the festivities of this celebration, interestingly enough, just five short weeks ago, we celebrated another important holiday that, unfortunately, like many other holidays, may have gotten lost in commercialism, short family vacations, and road trips. Of course, I’m talking about Memorial Day. Why look back at the calendar to Memorial Day at this time? Yes, we are now celebrating our independence, but we should always remember the amazing cost that purchased our freedom and independence.

Looking back at the history of these celebrations in our nation can remind us of some important truths, so here is a relevant little history lesson for us all. On May 30, 1873, General Ulysses S. Grant gathered with what is believed to be the first mass celebration of Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery. The uniqueness of that day was that General Grant presided over placing flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers who had given their lives in battle, Union and Confederate soldiers. This commemoration quickly became known as Reconciliation Day, but, unfortunately, that tradition and aspect of these holidays has quickly become forgotten in our world today.

My hope and my prayer for our community is that as we celebrate our independence, we will look at those who gave their lives for our freedoms and that we also will remember that it is a grand opportunity for reconciliation. Our freedom as a people reconciles us to each other. Like the old childhood song taught us, red, yellow, black, white, we are all precious in his sight. Our love from God reconciles us to Him. No matter what your past has been, no matter what your failures are, God’s reconciliation is real and available to all.

We would love to have you join us for a hot dog and enjoyable time of worship but, most importantly, we pray you do not miss God’s offer of reconciliation today.