“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3, NRSV)
The subjects of the thirteen New World colonies, rebelling against British abuses and neglect, declared themselves a new nation, two hundred forty-four years ago. They sought independence rather than restoration of the colonists’ traditional rights as British subjects, though it was not an easy decision. Armies had been in the field for more than a year before the Declaration, and for another two years afterward the officers of the Continental Army drank The King’s health at every mess. But in wonderous spirit, young visionaries declared their faith in each other, in God’s guidance, and in the apparently limitless bounty of the land that stretched westward before them.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration, they claimed “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” Therefore, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,” they declared their New World to be new nation. One unlike any the world had known before.
Each year on Independence Day — indeed, every day – we, their inheritors, may remember the grand experiment they undertook and rededicate ourselves to each other, to this still New World we have been given, and to the God whose guidance we seek in the holy task of moving together towards perfecting that vision.
And so we pray, 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, we pray, that we and all the peoples of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
–Fr. Frank Fuller
St Paul’s Episcopal Church