The Rector’s Message for the Week of July 4, 2021

Rector Turner
The Reverend Canon Carl Turner

Dear Friends,

It has been eleven years since July 4 was a Sunday and, as the Prayer Book allows, we will keep Independence Day at Saint Thomas with proper readings and national hymns. In preparing for my sermon, I have found inspiration from an unusual source, considering the origins of this day – HM Queen Elizabeth! In her Christmas speech to the Commonwealth of Nations in 2016 she spoke about the Olympic Games that were held in Rio de Janeiro that year and how, in meeting the medal winners from the Commonwealth of Nations, she heard how many of them had been inspired by former athletes; as she said in her speech, “Inspiration fed their aspiration.”

Of course, as Queen, Elizabeth has a different role than her 3rd great grandfather, King George III and next year she will be the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee which represents 70 years on the throne. York Minster intends to carve a new statue of her for the West front.

The Library of Congress has this statement on its website:

The American republic was founded on a set of beliefs that were tested during the Revolutionary War. Among them was the idea that all people are created equal, whether European, Native American, or African American, and that these people have fundamental rights, such as liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly. America’s revolutionaries openly discussed these concepts. Many Americans agreed with them but some found that the ideology was far more acceptable in the abstract than in practice.

Perhaps Independence Day is not so much about commemorating the dissolution of the connection between Great Britain and the American Colonies and more about those ideals of the Founding Fathers and how their inspiration has become the aspiration of so many Americans since.

One of the definitions of the word inspire (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) is to ‘breathe in (air); to inhale’ which, of course, takes us back to the second story of creation in the Book of Genesis. “Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) Inspiration is, therefore, directly associated with the creativity of God and the Holy Spirit. To be inspired is to be open to the promptings of the Spirit. May our celebration of Independence Day inspire us to give thanks for the vision of those who founded this great Nation, but also to strive for those first principles expressed by Congress.

Happy 4th July Weekend!

Affectionately,

Your Priest and Pastor,

Carl