2016 | Week of June 27 | #1157
Remember being a kid in summer? You had been liberated and were for several blissful weeks free from classrooms and homework. You were free to do the things kids do in the summer: cruising on your bike, swimming at the lake, watching fireworks, and playing pick-up baseball games. I guess you could say, from a child’s perspective anyway, summer is and has been a symbol of freedom, even though a child would likely have trouble defining liberty.
Liberty and freedom are words that even today as an adult I have difficulty defining. Any definition is likely going to be yet another abstraction of these already abstract words. As a result, even now, not unlike a child, I look to concrete symbols to help me explain these important words. And I think it fitting during this week of celebrating our nation’s 240t birthday that we reflect on a few of these symbols.
Cast in London, the Liberty Bell, this famous symbol of America’s freedom, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in August 1752. It cracked while being tested and was melted down to make a second bell, which was also defective. Finally, a third bell was cast; and on June 7, 1753, it was hung in the tower of Independence Hall. On July 8, 1776, the Liberty Bell was joyfully rung after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. According to tradition, this bell cracked in 1835, when it was rung in sorrow, as it tolled the death of US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. In 1976, in celebration of our nation’s bicentennial, the bell was moved to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where it is today enshrined on a green facing Independence Hall. Significant words from Leviticus 25:10 are inscribed on its base: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”
On July 4, 1884, the people of France gave us the giant Statue of Liberty as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. Today, this noble “Mother of Exiles” graces Liberty Island in New York Harbor, her lit torch a beacon to all freedom-seeking people.
Thousands of immigrants have entered America through New York Harbor. Often these folks relate that upon first seeing this impressive Lady, they were overcome with emotion. They knew what this towering statue stands for–freedom! And today, Lady Liberty continues to stand guarding the harbor and welcoming immigrants, with the following ennobling words engraved upon her pedestal:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Celebrating the Fourth of July in our traditional American way also symbolizes, I think, freedom and liberty. Shortly after the vote for freedom had been taken, and the Declaration of Independence had been drafted, John Adams sent the following message to his wife. He said the day celebrating America’s declaration of freedom from England “ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized,” said Adams, “with pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” We’ve heeded a lot of what Adams said. What would a Fourth of July celebration be without parades, games, sports and “illuminations”? Hopefully, this year as we watch fireworks rocket skyward illuminating the heavens, we will also be offering prayers heavenward as “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty” because America certainly needs our prayers.
The greatest symbol of liberty is, and will always be, the cross of Christ, without which we would never know true freedom. And true freedom is what Wisconsin Family Council is all about. We want to do our part to see that Wisconsin and America continue to be places where the Gospel can be freely preached and people can live and worship according to the dictates of their faith and consciences. We trust this week as you celebrate our nation’s birthday, you will also honor the true Author of Liberty.
From all of us at Wisconsin Family Council, “Happy Birthday, America”—and a grand Independence Day to all!
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”