Let Freedom Ring, August 1, 2006

The pride and faith citizens of the United States of America have in their country is particularly evident each July as flags are unflured and fireworks puncture the evening skies. It's a time when Americans contemplate their citizenship - a citizenship many people throughout the world would be honored to share.

The founding fathers of this country believed that the most important thing in the word is a government in which freedom and liberty of the individual is protected. They believed this freedom is basic to our individul development and happiness. They also believed that each person has an obligation to serve society, to assist in the machinery that helps guarantee our freedoms.

Of course, with freedom also comes responsibility. We must try to do the right thing as we see it, but be careful not to infringe upon the freedom of others. Since no incividual is perfec, freedom may be abused. This is why we have rules in our society, because absolute freedom is anarchy, and no society can survive in such a state.

The emphasis on the rights and dignity of each person occurs again and again in our great documents. We begin by declaring: "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". We live by this freedom theme and hold dearly to the sacredness and dignity of each individual. Ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Ultimately, nations are only as strong as their ideas and people. And when citizens no longer pay attention to the first principles of a nation, the nation itself is weakened, and soon its future is in question. It is for these reasons that we welcome the pageantry and celebration that takes place each summer in thousands of cities and towns throughout this grand country. May it always be a strong and free country. And may we never take it for granted.

Pastor Hans Lillejord