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Liberty and Justice For All

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

“You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”

–Leviticus 25:10

Today is Flag Day in the United States. Commemorated every June 14th, it marks the date when the stars and stripes were adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777. As many of you know, I participate as a leader every year at Boys’ State in Massachusetts, which always falls around mid-June every year; many years, Flag Day happens during the program, and the Legionnaires are always sure to mark it with a small ceremony. Although the program falls a little later this year, every day the stars and stripes will be raised in the morning, and lowered in the evening, attended by a group of Boys Staters. The flag is an important symbol of patriotism and national pride at the program, and is saluted and addressed with the pledge daily. But it also serves as a reminder of the responsibilities of citizenship and the common good that we seek to instill in the attendees.

At the same time, we’re also about halfway through Pride Month, marked every June since 1969 to focus on and celebrate LGBTQ identity and equality. The juxtaposition of those two symbols: the American flag and the Pride flag, patriotism and equality, liberation and loyalty, are particularly stark to me this year. We’ve had a challenging year in which both personal loss and attacks on equality and bodily autonomy are causing pain and fear and grief. This year, as John and I prepare to head to Massachusetts, I’m contemplating my place in the larger American family, and my responsibilities to the next generation. I’m feeling a little apprehensive about what could be ahead for us, and for our nation.

Yet, at the same time, I feel a deep sense of hope. As I shared in my sermon for Pride Sunday this past week, I’ve been reflecting on the hymn “We Are the Church Alive,” written by two ministers in the predominately LGBTQ Metropolitan Community Church in 1980:

We are the Church Alive, The body must be healed; Where strife has bruised and battered us, God's wholeness is revealed. Our mission is an urgent one; In strength and health let's stand, So that our witness to God's light Will shine through every land.

In a church and a nation that told them they did not belong, these faithful people dared to say that God was with them and calling them to stand up for justice, for equality, and for love. We stand on the shoulders of giants, who led the way to freedom and a greater equality in this land.

Today, we are called by the Spirit to be those kind of faithful people in this time and place. To witness to love and justice, and to know that we are not alone in the struggle. Because no matter what church leaders or legislators or family members or anyone in this world says, love is going to win. The Spirit is at work, doing things we once thought unimaginable. And she is not done yet. Proclaim liberty, this day and always. And the God of peace will be with us. Amen.


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