Today, we celebrate the birth of a nation and freedom. My children and I will read some poems, sing some songs and listen to stories about the reason as to why we celebrate. There is a rich and powerful history born out of this old land, one whose stories and past beg us to continue to pass down to each generation.
It is my duty to relate to my children that this day and what it signifies for them, is more than just a time to eat, swim and watch fireworks explode in the night sky. While celebrations are good and have their place, to help my children really know the reason this day is worth celebrating is imperative to their understanding of the cost in which we are allowed to celebrate at all. It was a heavy cost, one that (often), still requires a weighty payment.
There are many things I hope to teach my children about being an American.
For my children to know how this generous land was a place of refuge for family so near and dear, is an absolute. I hope for them to know all the stories behind how they came to call themselves, American. Some such stories, may have taken place many generations ago…some of these stories happened within the generation of those they know and love today. To understand this land, is to know these stories; To love it, is to take that which we have been blessed with and, in some sort of capacity, share it with others. For this is largely impart of what makes America, who she is – beautiful and great.
The New Colossus
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus
I want my children to deeply understand that this nation was founded on many things noble and good – a lover of justice and an indwelling of mercy was rooted into her being. I also want them to know that this grand country has made her fair share of shameful and grievous mistakes, in the 240 years of her existence. I want them to see her imperfect state. She is one who is marked by years and years of sin’s brokenness upon her land, for she herself does not have the power to rescue and redeem. While she is a land to be loved and cherished, she is not one to be worshiped and placed on golden pedestal.
I hope that my children will not look back on this country and wish for what once was…no, that is not what I want at all. I hope that I can model the love of Christ well, so that my citizenship is defined as such — I want my children to see the grace and redemption of my eternal home reflected in how I act while here at my earthly home. I want my children to not desire for their country a reversal, but, rather, for a strong movement forward – One that takes the good decisions made and couples them with even better ones for the glory of God and for His kingdom. For America, is but a reflection of her people and the choices they make. My hope is for a generation to rise-up within this great land and do great things. May there be a pride in country that is found: in the way her people love and seek the wisdom of a good, good Father, may it come from the way her people love all people as Christ loved them, and may it come from the ways her people act justly, love mercy, and seek to walk humbly.
Today, as we celebrate freedom, I hope I can impart to my children the gift it is and what it really means for all people of this American land. I hope that my children will know that freedom is a God-given gift to all and true freedom is found and experienced through Christ alone. I hope that I can help my children appreciate that they live in a land which allows them to choose that freedom without fear of punishment or exile.
Today, I do pray for God to bless America — if it will be a blessing well stewarded, if it will be a blessing that can be extended to others, and if, it will be used to glorify Him.