Nation’s anniversary provides an opportunity for reflection and prayer
July 4, 2018
We pause today to remember and celebrate the brave action of the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. On that date the delegates voted to officially adopt the Declaration of Independence. A committee of five was tasked to have the text printed and dispatched across the 13 colonies as rapidly as possible. These copies departed Philadelphia on July 5.
George Washington, commander of the continental forces, was camped outside New York City when he received his copy of the text on July 9. On that day the soldiers under Washington’s command were given a new mission as they fought to defend the newly declared independence.
Perhaps by coincidence or perhaps by design, in the very same general orders of July 9, Washington also directed the colonels and commanding officers of the regiments to procure chaplains for their units. The commanders were to pursue “persons of good characters and exemplary lives.” The soldiers were to “pay the chaplains suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises.”
Washington wrote, “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.”
Today we give thanks for the visionary leadership of the founders of our nation and the courageous act the members of Congress took 242 years ago. We are also encouraged to pray as Paul said to Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
And as we celebrate and pray, please remember all who have served our nation defending freedom and justice. And pray also for our chaplains, “persons of good characters and exemplary lives,” who throughout our history have been present wherever our forces have been deployed.
Lyman M. Smith, Captain, CHC, USN, Retired; Director of Presbyterian Counsel for Chaplains and Military Personnel
Today’s Focus: Independence Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Eternal God, guide us on this day, that we may dedicate ourselves anew to ushering in an era when good will shall live in the hearts of a free people, justice shall be the light to guide their feet, and peace shall be the goal of humankind. We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.