That beautiful lady called the Statue of Liberty is an almost universal symbol of political freedom. Reopened on July 4th, Heather Leykam was among the first to board boats destined for Lady Liberty. She said: "This, to us, Liberty Island, is really about a rebirth it is a sense of renewal for the city and country." You may remember that this sense of renewal was attached to Lady Liberty as tiny statues could be seen in the crowds in Tiananmen Square as a lone student stared down a tank. They also could also be seen in the crowds as the Berlin Wall fell.
However, there is another universal symbol of freedom: the cross of Jesus. As Paul writes: "For freedom Christ has set us free But do not use your freedom to sow to your own flesh, if you sow to easy, irresponsible freedoms, you will reap corruption" (Gal. 5:1, 6:7).
In 1620, aboard the Mayflower, William Bradford wrote: "We establish this state to the Glory of God!" Our American roots began, as does Genesis: "In the beginning God." But sadly, the God of our forefathers, as in Israel, has been replaced with a system in which our heritage is celebrated with drinking a fifth on the fourth so that we cannot go forth on the fifth! No wonder, Paul cautions us not to "use our freedom to sow to the easy, irresponsible freedoms of our fleshly desires."
It's an unforgettable photo: the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. Some 70,000 Marines were sent to take this little dot in the Pacific from the dug-in Japanese, because the United States needed a landing strip for its bombers. Retired Major Gen. Fred Haynes said: "The thing I'll remember forever was the courage and the guts of the kids and these were young kids but also heroes. Flag raiser John Bradley returned to his Antigo, Wis., home and prospered as the owner of a family business and gave generously of his time and money to local causes. Bradley avoided discussion of his war record, saying only that the real heroes were the men who gave their lives for their country.
Senator John McCain said: 'This is so typical. You won't find a hero who will admit to being one. Heroes consider their uncommon valor to be a common virtue; they see it as a simple duty nothing that someone else wouldn't have done under the same circumstances." Not only on the Fourth of July, but every day, we should salute those men and women who in Afghanistan, Iraq and the many nations in which the U.S. Central Command has counter terrorism programs strive for the freedom and prosperity this nation enjoys.
A little boy describing the famous patriotic painting, "The Spirit of 1776" said: "There are three men in it, one with a fife, one with a drum, and one with a headache." If you have been enjoying the benefits of freedom without the headaches of Christian responsibility remember that as a covenant nation and a covenant people we must quit "sowing to the flesh" because it is our duty to live as statues of liberty saying: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me "
Roger H. Lemke is pastor of Fishers Of Men Lutheran Church.