|Old Christ Church, Laurel, DE|
“by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own.”Jefferson’s failure to live by those words on the crucial matter of enslavement is something that history — if not his maker — must judge him for. But his vision of personal rights and intellectual liberty remain central to this country’s founding principles.
Religious beliefs, he wrote, “are a subject of accountability to our god alone. I enquire after no man’s, and trouble none with mine.”
He argued that humans have no way to know which type of religion is “exactly the right.” In heaven, he said, there are no denominations — “not a quaker or a baptist, a presbyterian or an episcopalian, a catholic or a protestant.” (Well, as the old joke goes, if an Episcopalian can’t tell a dessert fork from a salad fork they are NOT allowed in heaven!)
Historians are clear that Jefferson was the primary author of The Declaration of Independence. Ira Stoll, author and academic, writes that the following words, are the "Theology of the Fourth of July":
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men (sic) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’
This is the very radical idea around which the founders of this country built a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
|The Pulpit at Old Christ Church, Laurel, DE|
She was the youngest of seven and the only girl. Her mother died suddenly and, after she wiped the tears from her eyes, looked up and saw her future: six brothers and her father.
Immediately after that, an idea arose in her heart, making its way to her head and she could suddenly see another possibility for her future, to which she said, “Yes.”
|The first 'native-born' governor of DE (not an immigrant)|
And, those rights? Do you remember what they are? Yes, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.
Jesus sends out the seventy, two by two, and gives them some strict marching orders.
Your name. My name. Our names. Are written in heaven.
At the end of the day, at the end of the celebration of our independence, no matter the origin of our ancestry, no matter the land from which our parents came, no matter the place in this country we call ‘home’, it is important to remember and never forget that our true citizenship is in heaven.
That’s where are names are permanently inscribed. That is where we lived before we were born and where we will return after we die.
|The Sanctuary and pulpit (altar faces east)|
I take at least a modicum of comfort in knowing that God is not finished with us quite yet.