I have no problem with the Separation of Church and State. It is, after all, the law of the land. Yet, when we take a closer look at both subject matters, the Church and the State, we can also see how much both have in common. Both are clearly defined and identifiable; both have hierarchical structures; both are laden with laws, restrictions and guidelines and lastly, both are dependent upon the people for their existence and survival. Two subjects that have so much in common could very well work together quite nicely. The law is in place and has been for some time now. But, you know, it has been my experience that on the local level, Church and State do work together, quite often, hand in hand and mutually respectful of one another. Clergy and police department officials meet to solve communal problems and work at keeping our children safe and dare I say it…pray together, too.
The Fourth of July holiday provides me the opportunity to share these thoughts and reflections: our nation was forged through the independent spirit of the colonists, our national forbearers. Their diligence, determination and their thirst for freedom, which incidentally included religious freedom and a significant reason why ships first crossed the Atlantic and away from England and Europe, is what helped mold, form and give birth to what we now call these United States. A line taken from the Constitution reads: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union…” Is our Union perfect? Hardly. Is the Church perfect? Well, this is not as easy to answer. The human side of Church certainly is flawed as after all, people make mistakes and people ‘run’ the Church. Yet, the Divine nature of Church was, is and always will be perfect, for God is unquestionably perfect in all matters. We have gained, as a nation and a people our independence. We are a nation unto ourselves, umbilically connected to no one but still dependent upon the world-wide community for trade, commerce and our financial stability.
Perhaps I say this because I’m a “church person,” a Christian, passionately in love with Christ and a U.S. citizen who is proud of his Maltese-American heritage, but from where I stand it is clear to me we have always been connected, we, the Church and the State. We coexist and we work mutually, one with the other, while we respect one another and our legally provided separation. What better time, therefore, for us to celebrate not just our freedom as a people but our freedom as Church then this Fourth of July? We certainly have much for which to be grateful. Our country continues to be a great place to live and remains a beacon of hope for so many deprived and oppressed people in other countries. And we are free to worship as we wish, when we wish and as loud or quietly as we choose. What a shame it would be if we did not embrace and savor our precious freedom. My sisters and brothers, let’s make sure we take good advantage of our freedom to worship, with full voice, with our full diversity in glorious color and sound. Blessedly, at St. Nicholas, we have never been bashful about who we are…God’s people and one heck of a freedom-loving family of faith!
Your brother, with love,