As a nation we just celebrated the Fourth of July, our Independence Day. A day to remember not only our fight to govern ourselves, but also to honor all those who have given their lives to preserve that very freedom. A freedom that was heralded from Old North Church to Lexington and Concord in 1775, that rang out from the Liberty Bell in the steeple of the Pennsylvania Court House in 1776, and that was sealed with the defeat at Yorktown in 1782. Seven years of conflict, and a new nation was born. But over the years conflict has continued to rear its ugly head.
The Civil War tore apart not only our nation, but whole families. The battlefield of Gettysburg still bears the reminders of one of the bloodiest days in our nation’s history. The film Glory tells the story of Col. Robert Shaw of Boston, leading the first regiment of black soldiers to fight alongside white soldiers to preserve the Union. The war ended in 1865 but the conflicts continued.
Some of those conflicts had names: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. Men and women courageously took up arms – some for a cause that was clear and compelling, others seemed uncertain, yet all served with distinction and we honor those willing to serve. Each of these wars came to an end, but the conflicts continued. The morning of September 11 dawned a bright, beautiful, sunny day, until hijacked aircraft slammed into the twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon, and a PA meadow. A war on terror was declared, but the enemy is elusive, and conflicts continue. Just in the last few weeks, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. Terror has entered our schools, movie theaters, the Marathon finish line, a dance club in Orlando. Gunfire rings out, lives are lost, a nation grieves.
I am at a loss to address the most recent events across our nation. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are the names of the two most recent men whose lives have been cut short. These tragedies have been followed by an attack on police officers. Five lay slain in the streets of Dallas, TX. There is so much we do not understand, but one thing is clear.
“The Enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
So while we do not understand all the circumstances surrounding these latest disturbing events, may we join our hearts in prayer and mourning for the black community, the police community, the gay community, the Muslim community, the human community. May we boldly proclaim every life matters, for Jesus died that all might live. On the first Easter morning the war against the Enemy was won, but the conflicts continue.
Come quickly Lord Jesus, come.