July 5, 2020


Sing together:
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed full grace on thee,
And crown thy good with servanthood From sea to shining sea!

Holy God, as we celebrate the 244th birthday of our country, we give you thanks for all that is good and exemplary about our land and our life together. We celebrate the broad expanse of territory that ranges from rocky coast land and sandy beaches to everglades and glaciers, from potato fields and redwood forests to desert cactus and vast underground reserves of minerals and gems. We give thanks for our founders who dared to imagine the bold experiment that is democracy, and a life together organized around such principles as equality, inalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We give thanks for a land where people of all faiths and no faith can come together as one; for the rich heritage that is ours because immigrants from all over the world made their home here, found shelter and sought opportunity, bringing traditions and cultures with them, adding color and spice, dance and song for all to enjoy. We celebrate the notion that each one has a voice and a vote, that together – north, south, east and west, rich and poor, young and old, skilled with the hands as well as the mind, artist and laborer, scientist and farmer, miner and engineer, doctor and teacher – together, we become a people. And together we care for each other, volunteer our time, give of ourselves, share what we have.

Loving and holy God, there is so much for which we are thankful and by which we are blessed. And at the same time, it is excruciatingly clear to us that all is not well in our country, and so we come to you in search of healing and wisdom, courage and compassion. We pray for the divisions that separate us from each other, for rhetoric that erects walls and creates camps, for a tendency to point fingers and assign blame rather than sit together and create new alternatives. We confess our reticence to acknowledge the consequences of our actions on others, or the inclination to care; our longing for quick fixes and easy answers and our reluctance to do the hard work of building cooperation and fostering reconciliation, waiting out a virus and healing centuries old wounds of racism. Teach us when to encourage the patience to temporarily set our rights aside to protect the health and well-being of others, and when to express an impatience that says no in the presence of racism and cruelty. Open our ears and hearts to listen eagerly to another person’s story, and tell us when to open our mouths and speak a word of truth. Pour out your wisdom and courage on those in positions of leadership that they might truly lead. Move among us that each of us and all of us may come to see the role we can play, the difference we can make, especially when guided and empowered by you.

Sing together:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law!

Hear us as we join our hearts and voices in the prayer that Jesus taught, saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

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