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July 3 Minister's MessageMinister’s Message

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of youbut to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8


Growing up, the Fourth of July was always my favorite holiday. For a church going family, you might think that it would have been Christmas or Easter. Christmas was magical, Easter awe inspiring, but the fourth of July was just plain fun. Always the second one up in the morning right after my father, I brought the flag up from the basement storeroom. I hung it outside in its special holder while the air hung cool, and the smell of fresh mown grass lingered from the previous afternoon.


The fourth of July was filled with parades, watermelon, barbecued chicken, homemade ice cream (vanilla), and prayers of gratitude round the picnic table for the privilege of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave where we could openly practice our faith without persecution. My parents taught us kids never to take for granted.


There is no more patriotic holiday than the fourth of July, yet perhaps also none more dangerous for Christians. We have a tendency as humans to enjoy the party without counting the cost. We enjoy our freedom and would rather not think too much about those for whom freedom remains a fleeting dream.


Make no mistake, I am a Patriot. I love my country and support it. I vote in every election. I pay my taxes. As Christians throughout the world, we all love our homelands, as we should. We sing songs that honor them.


But hear this. Jesus didn’t ask us to be patriotic. Jesus asked us to be faithful. To be patriotic AND faithful, to support our nation AND worship our God, requires us to fight for justice on behalf of ALL God’s people. Period. There’s no getting around it. While we’re raising flags and eating ice cream, Jesus and the prophets before him trumpet a call to action. Provoking one another beyond patriotism, beyond our comfort zone, has always been unpopular.


The most prophetic truth tellers across time have always been maligned. Someone has always yelled out of the crowd: “Be quiet, go home, stop talking like that.” We’ve had plenty of examples of this kind of resistance to justice.


According to Pope Francis, “The church must get involved in politics. In fact, he said: a “good Catholic, a (good Christian), meddles in politics.” We don’t do this to elect a candidate or advance a party, but because politics affect human flourishing, and we’re called by God to defend the dignity of every woman, man, and child. Our commitment as a church is not to AVOID politics, but to avoid PARTISAN politics. We do ask the questions Jesus asked, so that we might participate in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth as in heaven for all people. Yet, we do not ever tell you what shape that should take or how you should vote. That’s what makes us a purple church in a red and blue world.

Jesus calls us to be more than Patriotic. Jesus calls us to be faithful. Expect resistance. Beyond patriotism, we faithfully proclaim our trust in God and our common commitment to act on God’s behalf, for liberty and justice for all people. This is our prayer. This is our hope.


Prayer: Holy One, reveal to us a path through the wilderness, and grant us the courage to take it. Amen


God’s Grace, Mercy and Peace be with you,

The Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland, Senior Minister

The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida

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