Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress had voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2, but it was not declared until July 4.
While Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, baseball games, and political speeches, it is also a time to give thanks for our blessings. Here are some ideas for you and your family to include devotional time, Scripture and prayer from the umc.org.
“to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”Joshua 4:6b-7
This Scripture talks about the stones placed at the side of the Jordan so that when the children saw them, they would ask to be told the story of the people coming into the Promised Land. Talk together as a family about the “stones” of faith in your house that help you remember the stories of God’s people. Talk about the Bibles in your home, any symbols of Christianity in your home, any music of faith that you play in your home.
Think together about the “stones” of our country. Talk about such things as flags; red, white, and blue decorations; parades; and fireworks. Discuss what these things tell us as part of the story of our country.
Other family friendly ideas
- Pray together this prayer (or one you write yourself): Gracious God. On this date in particular, we give thanks for this country. We thank you for the ideals of freedom and equality and inclusion that this country seeks to have. We pray for our leaders and ask that you guide them in making wise decisions that benefit the whole, not just a few. And we ask that you help us discern the division between country and faith so that all may have the same freedoms we so enjoy. Amen.
- Make and eat red, white and blue food. Make a blueberry or cherry pie. Add whipped topping to the pie. Make a fresh fruit salad using blueberries, cherries, red watermelon, mini-marshmallows, and red apples. Consider the hungry in your community. What could your family do to help those without enough food?
- Sing together patriotic songs such as “The Star Spangled Banner, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” “God Bless America,” and “America, the Beautiful.” See how many in the family know all the words to these songs. Award a prize to the family member who knows the most words to these patriotic songs.
- Visit places in your community that signify important people, events, or places in your community’s history. These places could include a cemetery, a courthouse, a statue, or a historical site. Discuss together what makes something important for a nation’s history. Is it the same as for a church’s history? Why or why not?
- Display the flag if you have one. If you do not, draw pictures of the flag or other symbols of our country — such as the liberty bell — and place these in the windows of your home.