All children enjoy summer vacation. What is there not to like? Summer meant no school, fun camps, and vacations with the family. Growing up in Toms River, NJ just a 15 minute drive to the beach (30 when the tourists were in town) we loved summer vacation. Each summer, my grandfather’s house would resemble something like Grand Central Station. His house was the place where the entire family would congregate. Grandpa’s house wasn't huge, just a simple ranch with three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a basement with some rooms used for guests. Since he also had a pool many summer weekends meant that all those rooms would be full of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. And when I say full – I mean it. My grandfather had 6 kids and each of them got married and had children of their own. 24 grandchildren in all and before he died we added a few great grandchildren to the mix as well. Fourth of July weekend was always a time when family from all over would come and be together. We would go to the beach, swim in the pool, eat burgers and hot dogs, and drive over to the river to watch the fireworks.
This weekend you might be traveling to the beach or headed to a barbeque. You might have big plans to stay up and watch the fireworks or get up early to attend a parade. Whatever your plans may be I urge you to take a moment or two to thank God for the many blessings that surround you. We live in a wonderful nation. No, it is not perfect and it never will be. But that does not mean that we should not be grateful to God all the same.
Here is a portion of beautiful prayer I came across this week offered by Chief of Navy Chaplains, Rear Admiral Mark L.Tidd at the 220th General Assembly in 2015.
Everlasting God of righteousness and grace, as our nation celebrates this Independence Day, remind us of our complete dependence upon you. We look to you for your wisdom and mercy as important issues are discussed. On this day, we ask you to keep this nation, and all nations, under your care, that we may be peoples who are at peace, and who are a blessing to others in this earth. Grant our nation's leaders wisdom, that there would be times of peace and justice in our land and in our world.
On this day, we lift up to you all who serve in our Armed Forces, who serve as the centurion did as ones who are under authority—brave men and women who risk their lives for their country. Remind us of those who are far from home and loved ones, who on this day sail or fly or walk in harm’s way, and keep them always close to you. Where there is combat, grant them compassion for their enemies, and keep them brave in the face of evil. Hold in your loving hands the families of those who are far away. Grant them comfort in their anxieties. And comfort those who grieve, because they have received the dreaded message that their loved one has died. Strengthen those who carry the wounds of war, visible and invisible, and be to them a sure presence….
And on this day keep all of us grounded not in our strength but in yours, ever relying upon the promise that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength ... They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
All of this we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the full prayer click on this link.