Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
The love of liberty is the love of others;
the love of power is the love of ourselves. —William Hazlitt
uring the most trying and desperate days of America’s pre-Revolutionary history, and as debate on the Stamp Act was coming to a close, Benjamin Franklin wrote saying, “The sun of liberty has set.” But he then added these words, “You must light up the candles of industry and economy!” And so they did, and in so doing, they secured our liberty.
One of the most iconic symbols of liberty is Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell. The bell is noted, of course, for its unsightly crack which appeared as it was being rung for the first time after its arrival in 1752. The Whitechapel Foundry in London had delivered a flawed product.
What was to be done? Sending such a heavy object back across the Atlantic for repair was a daunting proposition. A couple of local foundry men, John Pass and John Stow, repaired the crack — and inscribed their names on its side.
All was well for the next several decades. The Liberty Bell called the members of the Continental Congress to their meetings, and was very likely rung on July 8, 1776, to mark the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1835, as it was being rung to commemorate the death of Chief Justice John Marshall, the crack reappeared. This time, it was not repaired.
In 1865, as President Lincoln’s body lay in state in Independence Hall, the bell was placed near his head. The verse from Leviticus 25:10 inscribed on its side was visible to the thousands of mourners who filed by: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”
Some may think it strange that such a cherished national symbol should be marred by an obvious flaw. Yet, the flaw has now become a part of its character.
It is emblematic of the country itself, which is not perfect. As this line from “America the Beautiful” attests, we can only turn to God, asking that, by grace, the broken may be made whole: America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law. —Timothy Merrill
Prayer: Loving God, we thank you for the liberties we enjoy! Help us to treasure them, and to give thanks for those who protect them. Amen.