While the sound of fireworks can still be heard all around my house most nights, the official celebrations have ended. Everyone knows July 4, 1776, the day that the Continental Congress finalized the formal Declaration of Independence. But, what about July 9? Here is the background...
In the summer of 1776, as many as 32,000 British troops were gathering on nearby Staten Island. They were preparing to engage their enemy - the rebels of the American colonies. Knowing that the first official battle of the American Revolution was coming, General George Washington conveyed two direct orders to the Brigade Majors who commanded the troops.
First, he ordered that the brand new Declaration of Independence be read out to soldiers of the Continental Army in Manhattan. He believed reading the Declaration "will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms." He wants them to be inspired.
Second, he passes along the news that the Continental Congress has made funds available to hire a Chaplain for every regiment! He writes that the "Commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives - To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger - The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country." He wants them to be spiritually cared for.
Similarly, these are the primary tasks of the local church: to be a place where people encounter the God who inspires us and cares for us. I am humbled to serve a church that lives this out. God wants to connect with us and does that best through our relationships with others.
Grace and peace, Scott