Blessing for the 4th of July

Blessing

Preparation: Independence Day was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, at which time the Declaration of Independence was read aloud. In 1941, July 4th was set as a national holiday to celebrate our freedom. Set out an American flag. Fill a blessing cup* and set it next to the flag.
Welcome: (Have a family member open the celebration with the following) For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. Welcome to this time for celebrating our freedom.
Prayer: (Have a family member pray the following) Dear God, you sent your Son to set us free from the oppression of sin and death. Help us treasure and preserve all other freedoms we have been given. Amen.
Bible Text: (Have a family member read the following) For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become servants to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandments, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:12-14

Reflection

Option #1: For families with small children: Explain to your children what a gift freedom is to you and your family. Share ways in which freedom as impacted your lives: freedom to choose schools, toys, places to play, etc. Let them know that not everyone in the world is free. Freedom is a gift to be thankful for today. The fireworks, picnics, and parades are a way that our country has a party to give thanks and celebrate freedom. In honor of this celebration party bake a cake as a family and decorate it to celebrate of our country's freedom.
Option #2: Gather as a family and share your thoughts on the following:
This year I am most grateful for: freedom from...(oppression, hunger, fear...), freedom to...(learn, worship, work, care for others and for the earth...)  This year I am most concerned about helping others experience: freedom from..., freedom to...
Ritual Action: Hold the blessing cup and say, "This year I dedicate myself to work on preserving or helping others experience these freedoms." Drink from the cup, and pass it on.
Song Option: This Land is Your Land, America the Beautiful, God Bless America, My Country ‘tis of Thee, Life Ev'ry Voice and Sing.
Blessing: (have a family member say the following) "May we treasure the freedoms we have been given, using them always as gifts from the common good. Amen."

*The Blessing Cup is an ancient tradition, predating the practice of Christian communion by hundreds of years. Recently, it has been reclaimed by many religious groups as a way of celebrating God's action in our lives and the importance of others to our well-being. For this celebrating choose a cup, fill it with grape juice, water or wine, and place it on the table where you will gather.