The 4th of July is a day of celebration in America. After a year of restrictions, families could finally pull together to celebrate. Something hangs in the air. Among us regular folks, the celebrations seemed muted after a year of losses. What is this heavy weight in the atmosphere?
I love the 4th of July. It is one of the easiest holidays for me to prepare. The decorations are easy, unfurl the flag and uncover the grill. Sure you can always take it as far as you like, but really what do I need? Family, friends, food, and fireworks. And did I mention the food is really easy to make! Put whatever you like to eat on the grill and make a salad! Traditional desert is a cut up melon!
This 4th of July we worked on our home. I was too tired and raw from the pain inflicted over the last sixteen months to celebrate. The virus crisis, unrest, corruption, divisions, and the losses have taken a toll on all of us. It makes it hard to celebrate our country when we bungled the job, so to speak.
My prayer time was heavy on my heart that day. I wept as I poured out my pain over America turning away from God. Because so many of our so-called leaders have turned against God and the people of their lands, I prayed for the regular folks, the working class, and the children around the world. These leaders ignore history and try to erase our founding. In the past, our country has stumbled. But it was we the people that turned back to God in prayer.
Looking back over the evening, it wasn’t just me. The neighbors were much quieter this year. During the day, our streets were less busy, and I only heard the backyard parties when I was outside. The re-enactments of “bombs bursting in air” lasted a mere hour until ten o’clock. And all of the fireworks ceased at midnight.
Last year, despite or maybe in-spite of the virus crisis, the kids ran free in the neighborhood as cars drove more carefully through the streets. The bass of backyard barbecues vibrated through my house into the night. And the neighborhood fireworks lit the sky and rattled the windows until 2 am. By the way, this type of rambunctious holiday celebration has been the norm in my lower-middle class neighborhood for almost three decades.
So what happened in 2021? Have we lost our spirit? Where was the Rah! Rah! Sis! Boom! Ba! Maybe other areas were different, but I have a feeling there is an undercurrent here that is not good for us. We have lost heart.
The youngest prince walks. He will walk for hours when he gets a chance. He took the time to walk for several hours on the 4th of July to see what was going on in our area. On Monday morning I asked him what he noticed. He said “it was eerie.” My prince walked through two adjacent towns and returned along the beach on that hot, humid night. He told me, “There was hardly anyone out, and the fireworks stopped early. The best part of the night was the Leatherback turtles laying eggs on the beach. They were massive!”
He noticed the change too. He also pointed out something else, the Leatherbacks teach us a lesson. Hearing about them continuing the cycle of life from my son, I found hope budding in my heart. He reminded me that no matter what, life continues on. There is always hope and the power of prayer.
In my prayer group on Monday, we prayed Psalm 122 for Israel. We worked through what we had learned over the week and prayed our requests together. In finishing up one of my moms, noticed Psalm 126: Sow in Tears… Reap in Joy. She read from the King James Version:
1When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
3The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.
5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
What a blessing the Lord has for us. Let us weep now as we sow seeds of prayer, for He gives us the hope to continue working the fields to reap the harvest with joy! Please pray with me:
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your gift of God’s salvation for us. You wept over Jerusalem.1 You wept in the garden and asked the bitter cup to be removed from your lips2. Then you stood strong and faced the challenges ahead. Even unto death as all the sins of history were placed on your shoulders.3 You took our shame and burden. And You defeated death and rose with joy on the third day.4 Father, you ask us to believe in your son5 and to withstand in the evil day.6 Gather us like a hen gathers her young7 and help us, your remnant, to stand for You and work Your fields and reap Your harvest with joy!8 In the Jesus’ name amen. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.
May the hope and the joy of the Lord be with you today.
Footnotes (from the New American Bible Revised Edition unless indicated otherwise):
41Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. 32We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
6Ephesians 6:13 (New King James Version)
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! 38Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate.
37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; 38so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”