INDEPENDENCE DAY SERMON, 2011
The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley
Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm145; Matthew 5:43-48
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
On this Independence Day weekend, I want to talk about our country and what faith says to our present situation as a nation and people. We began our service today with an alternative to the usual organ prelude. It was the first of several quotations from the writings of Thomas Jefferson set to music by the composer Randall Thompson, the beginning of a choral work written in 1933 to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Jefferson, one of the major contributors to the birth of our nation. The composer deliberately set out to write a type of “public music” that would lift up the origins of the American struggle for independence. In fact one of the early performances of the work would be as a tribute to the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the latter’s death in the waning days of World War II in 1945.
Neither Jefferson nor various others of the signers of the Declaration of Independence released on July 4, 1776, were devout Christians,