Monday, July 26, 2010

Sacred Fireworks

Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 2)

Lost Boy doesn’t work on Sundays, so we were able to spend the Fourth of July evening together. I had been looking forward to watching a big fireworks show with him. I like the big thunderings that come with some of the explosions, like a giant drum corp. But when I realized that the Fourth was on the Sabbath and felt that a fireworks show was not reverent, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to do something special because it was a holiday and we were together!

After some thought we settled on a special, reverent, patriotic activity for the evening: we decided to take a picnic blanket to Temple Hill and sit in the grass on the temple grounds. We would be in a sacred place, a place we could have and freely visit because of our country’s independence and freedoms, and from there we could watch the firework shows from a distance. Temple Hill overlooks several communities in our area, from the river in the west almost to the foothills in the east.

We watched at least five of the big firework shows in our area. The explosions weren’t thunderingly loud, but we were in quiet, sacred place far from the rowdy crowds. Together. I thought maybe we would read some scriptures while we were there, like the part about Captain Moroni, the Standard of Liberty, and the conflict between the free-men and the king-men. But we didn’t read scriptures – it was too dark and we were watching for where on the horizon the next firework would appear. We sang a hymn together and talked. There were only two or three other couples scattered on the hill. We didn’t stay late; the Groundskeeper was ready to lock the gate soon after the last firework. There were no crowds and no traffic to interrupt our peaceful mood. It was the most reverent and reflective Fourth of July I’ve ever had.


Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 1)
Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 2)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sabbath Independence Day

Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 1)

This year the Fourth of July fell on a Sunday. Lost Boy and I had a few conversations about how we were going to spend the day.

Traditionally, Lost Boy’s family helps set up and take down the road blocks for the local parade. Service is a good Sabbath activity, but some of the family (the moms and the little kids) usually watch the parade instead of trail it. Lost Boy and I decided not to spend the morning apart.

I haven’t been able to watch fireworks with Lost Boy since we were dating in 2006 because he works as a security guard in the evenings, including (especially) holidays. But is the bustle, noise, and frenetic excitement of going to a community fireworks show, or of setting off fireworks in your driveway, really a reverent Sabbath activity? Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but we felt that our answer was no.

As we were sitting in testimony meeting* at church a sister mentioned that she was sad the local parade was being held on the Fourth – on the Sabbath – instead of on Saturday. I was a little sad too, because I had been looking forward to going to the parade with my nieces and nephews. I considered the decision we made to not attend the parade and I started to wonder if the normal parade attendance was lower because of people going to church instead of going to the parade. I don’t know. I kind of hope so because  what better way is there to observe and celebrate independence day than to take advantage of one of the freedoms the founders of our country fought for: the freedom of religion – to worship where, when, and how we choose? At first I thought that it would be unpatriotic to not go the parade or to have fireworks, but then I thought, how can it be unpatriotic to take advantage of religious freedom by worshiping God and observing the Sabbath? It felt pretty good to realize that by practicing my religion in the way that I feel is best I am being a patriotic citizen and respecting the sacrifices that were made to make my country free.


*In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, one Sunday a month the congregation fasts together and during that Sacrament Meeting there are no assigned speakers; the pulpit is open to anyone in the congregation who feels impressed to get up and share their testimony – their witness of Jesus Christ, his gospel, or any aspect thereof that is particularly important to them at the time.

Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 1)
Thoughts on observing a Sabbath Independence Day (Part 2)

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