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Aspiration- a strong desire to achieve something great

Freedom is an aspiration that began in the heart and mind of our nation before we were even birthed into being. Yet, an aspiration is just an idea, a hope, a yearning, until someone chooses to take action. And that aspiration can only be maintained with constant effort. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
I remember celebrating the 4th of July on a Navy base… one base after another… throughout my childhood. Those Navy celebrations included what you would imagine- barbeques and parades, family gatherings and community fairs. But those celebrations also had a serious tone because the celebrants all knew the price of maintaining our freedom. My father, a career Navy Chaplain, told me that the 4th of July is really our “recommitment day”- the day when we remember the price paid for our freedom and the price we commit to pay for the freedom of others. I would tell him that I had already paid my fair share with all the missed holidays and birthdays when he was deployed. But my father said that the price of freedom is a life-long willingness to work for the freedom of all.
For the last week and a half, we have all watched in horror as families wait for news of loved ones after the collapse of the condo building in Surf Side, FL. Twenty-four hours a day search and rescue teams have worked to find those buried under the rubble. On Friday, one of the firefighters working at the scene was informed that his 7-year-old daughter had been found dead from her injuries in the collapse. Imagine that moment… the grief… the helpless feeling of not being able to save his own daughter. The firefighter left to gather with his family that night. But the next day he was back on site looking diligently for the loved ones of other families. He understands what commitment really means- the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others.
Jesus reminded his disciples (we are among that gathering) of the simple but profound teaching from God’s Word about commitmentLove the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Love God- love neighbor. Jesus taught in the parable of the sheep and the goats- “Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” Jesus was calling us to live out our love for God by our willingness to love our neighbor. Then Jesus stretched all our sensibilities about who our neighbor is… from the friend next door that we enjoy and trust, to the grouchy neighbor who lives down the street, to the person from a different community and culture who looks different and lives differently than we do, to the enemy we fear. Jesus went on to command that we “love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us.” Following Jesus calls us to a life-long commitment to work for the sake of people we do not even know, like that firefighter who went back to his search and rescue work the day after losing his daughter.
John Adams once wrote:
“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.”
That “good use” must go beyond waving flags at a parade and setting off fireworks when the sun goes down. That “good use” must go beyond exercising our freedom to say and do as we please. That “good use” must be for the good of all God’s creation. We are blessed. May we be a blessing.
With you “recommitting” to God’s call,
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