From where I sit, there is the gentle sound of slowly swaying wind chimes. The birds are chirping across the yard, with an occasional visitor to one of our bird feeders. A small chipmunk just crossed the floor, a mere few inches in front of my resting feet. Water is bubbling up from the two solar-powered dish fountains in our flower garden. And there are hummingbirds – my favorite. As is often said of a child, hummingbirds have two speeds: resting or full-rev. Would you be able to maintain the cadence of a hummingbird’s buzzing, blurred-with-speed wings? I mean, talk about your aerobic workout!

The warmth and beauty of summer is my favorite time of the year and as I sit here, I am at peace.

Feeling the cool breeze on my bare feet, I am drawn toward gratitude. I am thankful for the beauty of God’s creation and how we are able to take it all in when moments like this present themselves. I am thankful for our senses; to see beauty, to hear the birdsongs, to touch the air through my toes, to smell the scent of flowers. The only sense that is not engaged at this moment is my sense of taste. But that could be easily remedied if I were to get myself a cup of coffee.

My gratitude then grows beyond creation toward the blessing of living in relative peace in a free country. As we celebrate our nation’s 245th birthday, may we all take a moment to reflect on what this country means to us. It is home.

Home is important. It is a place where we feel loved. We feel that we belong. It is that place where we feel centered when all around is chaos. Home is where we feel supported and accepted.

Whenever I travel, there is always a sense of comfort as the wheels touch down on a Pennsylvania runway, or seeing that sign as we re-enter the state: Welcome to Pennsylvania. That feeling is magnified when traveling abroad. I can recall the feeling of “home” wash over me as we landed in New York on our trip back from Greece several years ago.

This Independence Day, may we all take some moments to quiet ourselves; to reflect and be grateful. Sure, our country has its ups and downs, but there is no other place I would rather call home.

Happy birthday, USA!

“Peace to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.” – 1 Samuel 25:6b

Blessings,
Pastor Randy