Sermon Summary for Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence
On this Sunday before Independence Day we were blessed to have The Reverend Joe Herring with us as our celebrant. It was a big day with patriotic music, a sermon focused on liberty and equality, and a festive picnic following the 11:00 Eucharist.
Father Joe opened his sermon by quoting the above from the Declaration of Independence. This was penned by Thomas Jefferson who was the principal author of this historic document which is sometimes referred to as “American Scripture.” Father Joe posed the question…what would Thomas Jefferson say if he saw us now? Though this document promises us equality under the law, people are different. Inequalities exist due to race, religion, wealth and class.
John Locke tells us that primitive man was happy until they began to bump into one another. With the differences in cultures of the numerous tribes, the need for government and representation by that government became clear. We are a nation of immigrants and differing characteristics are inevitable. Government is necessary to prevent the descent into chaos. It functions to prevent the rights of a few trumping the rights of us all.
For one to construct architecture that will stand the test of time, there must be tension. For example, bracing is important in earthquake resistant buildings because it helps keep a structure standing. Depending on the forces, one brace may be in tension while the other is slack. It helps make buildings sturdier and more likely to withstand lateral forces. Liberty and equality stand in tension with each other.
"Equality” can mean equal material goods and income, equal social status, and equal general success and “happiness” in life. Or, it can mean equality before the law, which is in a different and higher category, and without which liberty would be precarious. However, there is no necessary connection between equality before the law and equal property, power, and so forth. Equality before the law is the “natural” state in a political society, but equality of goods and social life in general is “unnatural,” and would take a great amount of regulation and coercion to achieve and sustain. James Brovard
The regulation referred to above threatens liberty, so there must be a balance between the two ideals.
Where is God in all of this? After all, the Creator is referenced in the Declaration! All these gifts come from God and we must be careful that our pursuits do not hinder the rights of others. We must treat others with respect and compassion even if they are different. Doing this, we can reach the perfect balance between liberty and equality assuring all of us our unalienable rights.