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There is special significance for this Independence Day in our house. As many of you will know, Jonathan, our beloved son turns 13 tomorrow. The rite of passage that being a teenager is not lost on any of us. That this rite of passage comes as we celebrate American Independence from Colonial Rule as a nation is an interesting coincidence.

For some 200 years we as Americans have relished our Independence and the glorious success that Democracy has been for us and for countless others across the globe. And for good reason.

Having said that, I think we can fairly make the case the complete Independence, on any level, is a myth at best. The fact of the matter is that isolationism has never worked for America as much as we’d like it to. The same holds true with children, adolescents, and adults. This is especially true with the spiritual life. It is true that God’s presence is everywhere. I cannot deny that as a basic tenet of the religious life. We all, by virtue of our kinship with Jesus have access to God in ways that our Hebrew forbearers could not imagine. It is easy, and a bit dangerous, to think that we can have the fullest experience of God possible all alone. John Donne, famous Anglican preacher and poet penned these words,

“No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

 

We have existence in God apart from others, but we cannot claim the fullness of fellowship that God desires for us all individually if we choose to make God and our relationship to God a private matter. As Christians the centrality of relationship is central to our belief. That’s why the Trinitarian understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is part of our ordering our common life. We are created for relationship.

I guess my point is (and I do have one) this: Independence is a step toward maturity, but it’s just a step and not the end to which we’ve been called. As we understand ourselves independently we are offered a great and noble choice, that is to choose interdependence. We cannot do without one another. We cannot experience God’s fullness outside of community. We cannot worship fully in our tradition without relationship. The Eucharist, by definition, is the community expressing its thanks to God for all that is.

Regardless of where you find yourselves tomorrow, I hope that in the midst of our Independence Day Celebrations we’ll remember that we depend on one another and indeed on everyone that is in ways that we can never completely understand.

Blessed 4th! May you have the courage to seek Interdependence!!!

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