Unity needed now more than ever

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller

All over our great nation this week people celebrated Independence Day. Many community streets were filled with the smell of backyard barbeques and the sound of children’s laughter.

As the sunlight faded from the sky and stars began to twinkle an array of fireworks erupted reminding us of Francis Scott Key’s words, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Each time I hear these words I feel honored to have been born an American.     

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Even with all the problems our country is currently experiencing I feel blessed and humbled to call America my home. Our country was founded by men who unabashedly sought God’s protection and direction. 

In fact, the Declaration of Independence specifically refers to God four times. The last sentence of this document states, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor”.

The original 13 states have expanded over the course of our history into our current fifty states. The United States has sovereignty over 14 territories, which occasionally leads to the misunderstanding that we have 52 states. The District of Columbia is a federal district, not a state. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and also is not a state.

This morning while contemplating our Independence Day celebration I am encouraged by some of the recent Supreme Court decisions, one of which protects our religious liberties. 

We know that our great nation had at its very heart from the beginning the value of religious liberty. With the challenges our country currently faces we still have much to be thankful for, and in my humble opinion we live in the greatest and most blessed nation of the earth.

When I get together with family and friends for hot dogs and watermelon on the 4th my thoughts don’t automatically go to our nation’s founding fathers and their hopes for our nation. But this year as I celebrate with my friends I’ll pray for unity in the United States; we need it so very badly. 

Unity is so important not only in our nation as a whole, but within our own homes and families. I always told my children when they were young that the world may be cold and unloving at times, but our home and family would always be a safe place where we celebrated one another. I’m so thankful that they all embraced this teaching.

Some of my happiest times are spent on group chats or just hanging with my people. My individual prayer for each of you is love and unity within your circle that spreads to our churches and across our land.

As recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”