Wednesday, July 2, 2008
We're on the verge of a big holiday weekend...It's Independence Day, people! And, you know what that means, don't you?!
Fourth=Friends, Family, Food, Fireworks, Fun, Freedom.
But, it's the last one that got me thinking...Now, just go with me for a minute, ok?
Have you ever examined yourself and wondered where you get those weird freckles? Or your crooked smile? How about your goofy sense of humor or your love of all foods Italian?...I have. For instance, I have green eyes. I’m pretty sure I get those from my Mom—or possibly the Mason Family in general, since there are lots of green eyes on that side. I also have an uncanny ability to eat ridiculous amounts of food for a girl. I definitely get that from my Grandma Young. Then, there’s my stubborn streak—I’m positive I get that from my dad, my mom, both sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts, great-grandparents…Frankly, I could probably go back generations and still find strains of it! And, I can’t forget my chubby toes…I have yet to find a family member willing to claim responsibility for that heritage.
Ok, so fat toes may not be a legacy I’m real grateful for, but there are other aspects of what my ancestors have given me that I value beyond measure. Like the opportunity to live free. In my family heritage I have people who have fought and sacrificed so that I would have the chance to live in freedom. What a gift!
My grandfather was a solider in WWII. When the Axis powers threatened the world at large, and the democracy of America, He stood up and fought back. He was in Pearl Harbor, he jumped on D-Day. He was wounded in France and received the Purple Heart for his passionate commitment to fighting for the right to have freedom.
I also have a great-great-great-great grandfather, named John, who fought in the Civil War. Born a southerner, he gave up his entire family, who disowned him, when he joined the Union Army. He was even forced to change his last name. He chose Mason. This man lost nearly everything, including a leg in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863—exactly 145 years ago tomorrow. He sacrificed all this by choosing to fight for the right of all people to have freedom.
Freedom is even part of why I love my church so much. We are affiliated with the Free Methodist Denomination…The Free Methodist Church was founded in 1860 and the issues of the church’s creation included so many freedoms that it would have been difficult to give the new church any other name than “Free Methodist”. For instance, they stringently opposed slavery and fought to abolish it. Also, in the new “free” churches, the pews were free, in contrast to regular Methodist churches which either rented or sold their pews, thus relegating the poor to the back. In the new church, even the poorest people could sit where they chose without having to “rent” or “buy” a pew to worship God. “Free" Methodists called for free seats for everyone and anyone! (www.cornerstonefmc.org)
I’m sure if I was able to trace my family and church history back even farther, I would find multiple tales of how those who came before worked, battled, and sacrificed to give me the incredible opportunity to live free. I know that most, if not all, of you could share similar stories. It is a gift our forefathers have given to their children, and their children’s children, and so forth. It is a legacy they started and has continued. Now its time for us to play our part—They believed the chance to have a life of freedom was a gift they were willing to die for…Is it a gift we are willing to LIVE for?