This past Independence Day happened to fall on Sunday, a day of worship for many Americans. Because of our country’s deep tension between worship and patriotism, I felt sorry for our dean who, in her sermon that day, had to find the balance between celebrating the gospel and nationalism. She found the common ground in the word “Freedom.”
Though Jesus was neither a Christian nor an American, he did believe in freedom and mercy, two very American and Christian values.
As I have mentioned before about the Episcopal Church, preachers do not pick their Sunday sermon topics. They must follow the liturgical calendar with scripture readings set years in advance. On this day, the Gospel reading was from the book of Mark.
The Parables of Mark
- The Strong Man (Mk 3:23-27)
- The Parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3-8)
- The Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself (Mk 4:26-29)
- The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mk 4:30-32)
- The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk 12:1-9)
- The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mk 13:28-31)
Of all of these, I must confess, I only recognized The Parable of the Mustard Seed “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field.” Curious, I did go read the other parables and found them to be barbaric, make no sense, and felt grateful I wasn’t the one having to write a sermon on joining the Book of Mark and Independence Day.
Thankfully, Dean Amy Meaux did that chore for all of us. She sowed a well-thought out sermon and wrapped it all up in a tidy bow, with a reminder about how lucky we are to be born in America. She said, “Love your freedom and Jesus’s mercy enough to demand it be shared with others.”
I thought that was a gracious ending.