“Let Freedom and Compassion Ring!”

Dear Friends,

I invite you to worship with us this Sunday, July 4 at 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. It will be our only “live” service of the morning. We will enthusiastically celebrate the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ, within the context of our nation’s Independence Day.

During adolescence, most of us believe that our hometown is the most boring place on earth! I was that way. As an adult, I realize that my hometown was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Mt. Morris, Illinois. . .It had about 3,200 residents when I was young. It’s 100 miles northwest of Chicago. A sign along the highway greets travelers with this message: “Welcome to Mt. Morris – Incorporated in 1848 — Let Freedom Ring!” In the middle of the sign is a picture of a grand bell hanging underneath a gazebo on the village square. It’s a replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the iconic symbol of American independence. Our version came to my hometown in 1966, and in 1971 it was designated the official Illinois Freedom Bell.

The 4th of July is celebrated in Mt. Morris with the annual “Let Freedom Ring!” festival. It was a highlight of the summer for us! A carnival came to town and set up their rides, games, and booths. On the morning of the 4th, there was an amazingly large parade route in the streets of our tiny downtown area. There was a concert in the bandshell near the Freedom Bell. Lots of the volunteer musicians were either teachers at my school or members of our Methodist Church. At dusk, we lay on the grass of the football field to watch the fireworks display. From start to finish, it was a celebration of country, community, and connectedness!

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment? He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. . .(and) You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This kind of devotion and compassion is important every day, and especially as we celebrate Independence Day. Join us on Sunday, as we “let freedom and compassion ring!”

With Gratitude,

Dr. Mike Marshall, Associate Pastor of Leadership Development

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