This weekend, we celebrate Independence Day. July 4, 1776 was the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by representatives of the thirteen colonies. It is essentially the birthday of our nation, and since 1941, July 4 has been a federal holiday.
I cannot remember a time in my lifetime when our nation has been more divided. We have let response to Coronavirus divide us. As a result of the virus, there has been unprecedented unemployment, and the changes to our lives brought on by the virus are exhausting. We are also grappling with racial inequality, which has always divided us. It is an issue that creates great discomfort, and therefore the anxiety of that issue is feeding into other anxieties that were previously present. In the background, we have the 2020 presidential election, something almost every adult has an opinion on.
I want to suggest an idea that is not new but seems to be forgotten: What unites us is far greater than what divides us. It is so easy to be divided, to be angry, to point fingers. It takes a great deal more work to pursue unity. To be united does not mean someone wins and someone loses. It means that we can learn from one another, we can listen to each other, and we can come up with beneficial solutions together. It also means that when we don’t agree, we should be able to disagree agreeably. Sometimes, though, it seems we’ve lost this.
Christians understand that concept of unity in a profound way. We don’t always agree (who does?), but we stick it out, and over time, we learn that our love for Christ and one another is more important than any single issue. At times, we struggle to be united, but we almost always find a way.
On this Independence weekend, I want to encourage us to pursue unity. I think it begins with recognizing that we can have differing opinions and still be together. We can still love one another and disagree. We do this as Church. We can do this as a nation, too.