Two Great Invitations
As I think forward to the God and Country celebration which we hold here at New Sweden the last Sunday of June each year I think of two invitations which we are the recipients of. The first comes from our Lord Jesus who simply gave us the invitation to "Come, follow me!". That invitation gives us a better life and a brighter hope as we look toward our futures. It is a simple and straight forward invitation which some of us have gladly responded to. Upon acceptance hope, peace and love become our constant focus. There is another invitation from a more recent time that has also brought hope to those who suffered in poverty, prejudice and bondage. It is that invitation etched on the base of the statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe
free, the wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I life my lamp beside the golden door!". Like the words of our Lord, these words have invited people to change their lives and destinies.
The people who follow Christ believed that the rewards would be worth the price and they knew there was a cost associated with the discipleship. Likewise, those who cast their fate to the future of this land of freedom find that freedom isn't free. Happiness isn't handed out, and even the golden door of opportunity is one which must be pushed open.
The finding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor so that we who followed would have an opportunity to pursue happiness. To find it, is up to us. So, both invitations require something more than just wanting to be free, happy and blessed. Desire, faith and yes, "hard work" are necessary.
Jesus said to those who followed him, "You are the light of the world". Here again is a similarity to the promise on the Statue of Liberty. The lamp lifted by the golden door is not a single torch atop a statue. That is only a symbol, a symbol of a combined flame of millions of Americans lifting a light of hope to the whole world to join with us in pursuing freedom and dignity for mankind.
Perhaps the two invitations are really a part of only one. Jesus said, "I come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". No people in history have ever tasted such an abundant life as have the people of America. But more than material prosperity, the love of God and the respect of one another are essential for any successful Nation. These are the services and sacrifices required of those who would follow Jesus, and they are the same works that will keep the torch of Liberty burning brightly in our blessed land.
Pastor Hans Lillejord