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The 4th of July

We live in a very special nation; a place that people from around the world are longing to enter. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, I’m glad for the freedoms we have, especially for the freedom to worship as we feel led; a freedom not available to so many in the world.

The founders of our great country understood the importance of this freedom. They understood the role God played in the very establishment, against all odds, of the new country.

George Washington, our first president, was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, the first capital of the United States. His inaugural address included the following prayer to God:

“It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent prayer to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aid can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes.”

In addition, the appreciative leaders of the new government issued the following national call to prayer:

“On the morning of the day on which our illustrious President will be invested with his office, the church bells will ring at nine o’clock, when the people may go up to the house of God and in a solemn manner commit the new government, with its important train of consequences, to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High. An early hour is prudently fixed for this peculiar act of devotion and is designed wholly for prayer.”

Federal Hall is not too far from what we now know as “ground zero,” where the Twin Towers once stood. After publicly taking the oath on a balcony overlooking the street, he delivered his address within the senate chambers of Federal Hall, during which he cautioned the new nation not to forget God’s role in its founding by declaring that, “the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

As instructed by the new congress, on the morning of the inauguration, the sounds of church bells filled the new nation’s capital for 30 minutes, calling the people to go up to the house of God, to commit the new government to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High.

As the bells rang, the nation’s first President, Senate, and House of Representatives walked from the Federal Hall to a little church where they bowed together in prayer to consecrate the new nation’s future into the hands of God. You can visit that little church (St. Paul’s) which still stands, right next to ground zero, with only a window broken from the fall of the Twin Towers.

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the 4th of July, let’s not forget our heritage and the foundational principles of so many of our Founding Fathers. They sought to build a place where freedom reigns and where all people were free to worship as they pleased.

We are reminded of this heritage every time we stand and pledge allegiance to “One Nation under God” or look at a dollar bill that declares that “In God We Trust.”


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