Happy Fourth!

By Elizabeth Prata
flag collage.jpg

The Fourth of July is so fun for a kid. It’s a day when the grownups stay home and we all get to play. For some, that means swimming in the lake or at the beach. For others it means parades and cookouts. For just about everybody it means fireworks.

Our family did lots of different things on the holiday. We spent summers at the Cape. We went to the Park and listened to the Boston Pops. We had pool parties with BBQs. But mainly what I remember is our grandparents’ beach house on the Bay, cousins, and all the uncles leaving to go buy fireworks and returning laughing carrying a huge box. Cherry Bombs and rockets and roman candles, and most delightfully, sparklers.

I loved the sparklers. I’d run up and down the beach waving them as I passed all my other cousins who were doing the same thing.

Is there anything more fun or beautiful than colorful fireworks streaking overhead? Jimmy Buffett has a song called,  “The night I painted the sky”.

Independence Day
And all I remember
Was a midnight rainbow
That fell from the sky
As I stand on the beach
I slowly surrender
To the child in me
That can’t say goodbye

The rockets in the air
And the people everywhere
Put away their differences for a while
Oh I am still a child
When it comes to something wild
Oh that was the night
I painted the sky

The prominent memory is the family- nuclear and extended, gathered together on the 4th. Fun, family, eating, family, laughter, family.

There’s some negative reactions these days from Christian conservatives when a person even tiptoes over to the rah-rah America side of things. I unashamedly love my country. Though I love America, I know my ultimate citizenship is in heaven. But the Lord birthed me in 1960 in America and kept me alive throughout these 50 odd years and I can’t complain about His ordination of his time and place for my life. It wasn’t China in 645 BC or Iceland in 1828 or Germany in 1944. It was America, 1960.

I’m glad I live in America. I think it’s a great nation and it has afforded me a good life. My great-grandparents and grandparents, all 4 of them, came (legally) to America. They chose America to immigrate to, and that says something. They raised their kids here and the men fought the wars to protect here and eventually all the Pratas gathered at the beach house and we ran up and down waving sparklers in freedom and in love for our country.

Here in America today people will gather in sidewalks to see parades or in backyards to eat hot dogs or in parks to hear music…whatever you’re doing I hope it’s with family, a structure the Lord ordained as a foundational building block of the nation. And I hope it affords you means to behave in Gospel ways and to speak of the Savior to others. Because we live in America, we can still do that. We can assemble freely and practice our religion freely.

It’s a day that also can remind us that no matter how much we delight in painting the sky with lights, no matter how we enjoy family, eating great food, or just relaxing from our labors, the Country that’s coming in which we will dwell will afford us more peace, more joy, and more light and beauty than we can imagine. We love America, but it will pass away to a better country: the New Jerusalem. Think of today not only of building family, not only as a day to share the Gospel in gatherings, not only as a day off from hard work, but a day that foreshadows the greater Day when our citizenship will be united not around an earthly nation but around perfection in Jesus.

Enjoy your Fourth!

flag with fireworks

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