"Does Lady Liberty's Light Still Shine?"
2 Samuel 1:1,17-27; Psalm 131:13-15;
Lamentations 3:22-33 and Psalm 30;
2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
July 1, 2018
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22 ff.
Lamentation may seem strange on the Sunday before the 4
of July. This writing is credited to the weeping prophet Jeremiah. Judah has fallen. Families are broken and carried away into exile. The lament, the cry is heard in the land. I find comfort in the words,
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end.”
And we recognize in the text words of the hymn
Great Is Thy Faithfulness.
For the impatient among us, we are called to wait. But waiting is not passive—in scripture it always has a hopeful future. We wait in hope.
July is important to me for another reason. Uncle Sam sent me a letter on my eighteenth birthday one July that made me a conscription soldier. Later that year on Christmas Eve, two hundred of us were loaded onto a troopship, the
U.S.S. Fredrick Funston
, bound for Korea. When you are 18, seasick, on a ship headed into an uncertain future, I wasn’t so sure about the truth in those words
the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
As we boarded the ship the “grey ladies” (Red Cross) wished us a Merry Christmas, gave us a cookie and a carton of cigarettes, compliments of Lucky Strike. Later that evening, just at midnight, as we stood on the deck of that ship sailing just off the coast of Alaska, I saw the Northern Lights for the first time and listened as a chaplain read the Christmas Story.
When life is tough and uncertain, the lament is honest and hopeful.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
We are living in a moment of time these days that is different from what I have experienced before. Countries that look to us are dismayed. The language written on the base of Lady Liberty calls for those tired and poor souls who seek freedom to come in.
Has the Liberty light gone out? For me, that is the question that I would ask on The Fourth of July this year. The light of freedom for all depends upon our continually reminding each other that the steadfast love of the Lord indeed never ceases. And those words also call forth a lament. We think of children who cannot find their parents. Has the light gone out on Lady Liberty? As a grandpa to 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, I feel the pain of parents stripped from their children. The behavior of our leaders causes me to hang my head in shame and fear. Does Lady Liberty bow her head in shame? Or is she still the light that gives each of us permission to break our silence on behalf of children?
These days I think of the old weeping prophet—who also went to the bank, bought back the family farm, even as the enemy was at the gate—symbol and sign that the future is with God. Jeremiah was also known as the troubler of Israel. I think he would say to us these days, “Go make some holy noise on behalf of the children!”
Prayer: God, you come to us as Parent and Grandparent this day. Help us to know that your steadfast love is more than emotion—help us to see it as a call to faithfulness and action. All we have needed thy hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. Amen (United Methodist Hymnal p.140)
Note from Bill Cotton:
My heartfelt thanks to Rev. Bill Steward for writing the June Memos. As always, you hit it out of the ballpark!