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Two women embrace while draped in the American flag

A Prayer for Freedom

This weekend we celebrate the Fourth of July.  There will be picnics, parades, and lots (and lots) of fireworks.

As I reflect on the history of the 4th and of our country, I am led to wonder how we define freedom. Per Websters Dictionary, freedom is defined as:
(a) the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action;
(b) liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another as in independence;
(c) unrestricted use
(d) the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken;
(e) a political right

People fight for freedom. People die for freedom. People seek to live in freedom. The word is often interchanged for independence, patriotism, rights, and privileges. So here I offer a prayer for freedom and for all those everywhere who seek it.

“Prayer for Freedom”
Independence Day—fireworks, parades and picnics
“bombs bursting in air”—celebrating Independence.
Freedom from being subject to imposed tyranny of another
In-depend-ence is not individualism
Although we often pretend it is.
We are interdependent in our independence.
We are linked by our locale in this United States of America.
We are linked by our humanity in this ever growing, global world.
Patriotism is different.
Flag waving, oath taking, “I pledge allegiance”
To a country, an ideology, a system (or systems) of beliefs.
Similar to religions, systems of beliefs.
Freedom to believe,
Choice, responsibility, privilege, challenge, complicated.
Freedom – free to choose who we are and who we are to become;
How we act, react, respond.
Does my freedom restrict yours?
Does your freedom interfere with mine?
How do we balance freedom for all?
What would it look like to truly live with “liberty and justice for all?”
God, you create each of us in our uniqueness and in our similarities.
Help us to learn to live in respect and love for one another, ourselves, and our world.
For in your divine creative wisdom you have placed us upon this earth to live interdependently, connected, sharing our gifts, graces, and needs so that in freedom we may work together to build your kin-dom as you intend it to be.

May this 4th of July remind you of the beauty, joy and challenge of freedom.


Rev. Dr. Donna Patterson

Rev. Dr. Donna Patterson serves as Anam Cara Chaplain in Residence for Scarritt Bennett Center and directs the Center’s Soul Work program.