On Sunday, the United States celebrates our nation’s birthday. I was looking over what I wrote last year at this time. We were neck-deep in Coronavirus, and it seemed like every day the restrictions were changing and there were not many signs it was going to improve soon. And though there are still some concerns related to the pandemic, by and large, it seems like we are moving out of it.
I also mentioned the upcoming presidential election, and we had no idea last July that it would be as contentious as it was. Racial inequality issues were also at the forefront of our national consciousness, and that issue, though still critically important, has moved from a boil to a simmer.
Last year at this time, I wrote these words, “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.”
I still stand by these words. Unity is hard, and we must work for it. It does not magically come to us because we are citizens in this country, or professing Christians in a congregation. Our democracy has often been described as “fragile,” and I believe that is an appropriate word. As we have all seen over the past year, it really does not take much to divide us.
For Christians, unity begins in our relationship with Christ. Christians believe that God loved people so much that he sent God the Son, Jesus, to die for our sins, and then to be raised to life. Across the theological spectrum, where the differences can be very profound, one thing we typically agree on is the salvation that comes to those who believe because of the death and resurrection of Christ.
As we make our way into the Fourth of July weekend, I want to encourage us to remember how blessed we are to live in this country, and how precious unity is. Even if for only a moment, let’s put aside the differences and focus on what unites us. We do that wonderfully as a congregation. We can surely carry that into the weekend and beyond.