Thursday, June 30, 2011


Text of my part in a Celebration of our rights and freedoms at Trinity United Church, June 30, 2011.  An Inter-Faith celebration.

Thank you for the invitation to participate in this;
a celebration of our rights and freedoms;
it is both a privilege and an honour.

I bring greetings from the Rt. Rev’d Sue Moxley
Bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Let us pray,
Opening Prayer
Almighty God,
whose wisdom and whose love are over all,
accept the prayers we offer for our nation.
Give integrity to its citizens
and wisdom to those in authority,
that harmony and justice may be secured
in obedience to your will;
Give us, we pray, such unity
as may enable us to promote the peace of your creation
and the glory of its creator;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We are gathered here this evening in a spirit of thanksgiving
For the rights and freedoms we enjoy in this country

May we be truly grateful for the blessings we enjoy,
­   for family and friends,
­   for employment,
­   for opportunities to learn and grow.
May we never lose sight of these blessings.

Our ancestors labored on land and sea, and built a great nation.
They have gifted us with:
­   responsible government,
­   a free press,
­   educational institutes,
­   religious freedom,
­   telecommunications,
­   art, music, culture… and on and on the list could go.

Our gift, to the generations to come, is to use our God-given talents,
our memory, reason and skill
for the preservation and improvement of our all these blessings.

Our scripture speaks of heaven being like a holy city,
but no community can be sustained without a hinterland,
without mountains and hills, rivers and streams,
forests and swamps, birds and bees. 
I hope that the heavenly city is thus blessed, as this nation of Canada is.

I sometime wonder if we, here in Canada, fully realize how lucky we are:
“Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver,
where still the mighty moose wanders at will…”

“The true, north, strong and free.”

Canada, a vast and beautiful land, from 40 below to 40 above,
And yet, few come to these shores,
to these mountains, hills, prairies and islands – for the view
It is our freedom, our respect for the dignity of every human being
            that bring immigrants and refugees

After being tested for 40 days in the wilderness,
Jesus returned to his home town
and worshipped with his family and neighbours.
He stood up to read, and he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’                                      
Luke 4.18-19

Good news, release, sight, freedom
­   that’s how Jesus defined his ministry and what he is about.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, tirelessly fought to end apartheid,
he spoke of freedom and responsibility as if they were the same thing
Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand
The Archbishop wanted the people of his nation to be given the freedom
to exercise their responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt said,
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being.
With freedom comes responsibility.”

People came to the new world, to North America
in search of religious freedom,
to be able to live as they believed they were created to live.

The right to live in freedom is the right to be responsible,
­   for oneself and for the freedom of our neighbours.

Nelson Mandela said,
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Freedom brings with it responsibility:
­   To vote
­   To serve
­   To protest
­   Yes, and even to pay taxes

Jesus asked his followers to pray for their enemies,
­   and not because it really annoys them,
­   but because it transforms people.
The person praying can’t really pray for their enemies
­   without, at the very least,
­   beginning to see their enemy differently,
­   as a human being,
­   as a relative,
­   and eventually as a friend. 

And so we pray this day for our enemies…

Let us pray for Our Enemies
O God, the Lord of all,
your Son commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for them.
Lead us from prejudice to truth;
deliver us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge;
and enable us to stand before you,
reconciled through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Citizenship in this country brings with it responsibility and so,
on the eve of a national holiday marking the birth of Canada
we pray for the nation…

Let us pray for the Nation
Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage.
May we prove ourselves a people mindful of your generosity
and glad to do your will.
Bless our land with honest industry,
truthful education,
and an honourable way of life.
Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance;
and from every evil course of action.
Make us who came from many nations with many different languages
a united people.
Defend our liberties
and give those whom we have entrusted
with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom,
that there may be justice and peace in our land.
When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful;
and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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