Ceremony Becoming the Occasion


“The LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)

“Philadelphia, July 5, 1777. My dear Daughter: Yesterday being the anniversary of American Independence, was celebrated here with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion . . . The thought of taking any notice of this day was not conceived until the second of this month, and it was not mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as every one wished, so this must be deferred another year” (John Adams, from Adams Family Correspondence: June 1776–March 1778, 274).

John Adams made two observations that should be remembered today. First, the idea of “taking any notice” of the significance of the day was “not conceived” for some time, and second, “every one wished” to hear a sermon rather than hold a celebration. We have come far!

But note the Creator’s idea of independence. The text in Isaiah 61 is what the Lord Jesus quoted in the synagogue in Nazareth as He assumed His public ministry. “This day,” Jesus declared, “is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). God’s great liberty is of the spirit and of the mind, not merely of the land and the national population. The independence of Christ will heal the brokenhearted. It grants deliverance to the “captives” and new sight to the blind. The liberty of the King of kings and the Creator of the ends of the earth will set at liberty the bruised.

Be grateful and celebrate the wonderful liberty that God has granted the United States. But pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. . . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:10, 13). HMM III