God Bless America

If you tried to email or call me in recent weeks, you would have learned that I was selected for jury duty and served for a little over a week. If you have also been called upon to do so, you likely understand that it can be inconvenient, add a little more chaos to already busy lives, and sometimes, throw things off that we have meticulously planned, like professional obligations and, also in my case, training schedules for important upcoming competitions.

I’ll admit that my initial response was not positive. In speaking with Fr. Steven about the possibility that I might be selected for the jury and that the trial was expected to last more than a week, and past my term, we both joked that perhaps we should pray that I wouldn’t be chosen. As we were about to hang up, however, I mentioned to Father that we would both have to be prepared in the event that God saw fit to count me among the 14 selected (there are always 2 alternates included until deliberations begin). God’s will was such, and when I called Father again to let him know, his response was that God must have a reason.

Jury duty, for those of you who haven’t yet served, is not very exciting. There are no dramatic courtroom “aha” moments. There is a lot of sitting in small rooms filled with strangers, while you wait for off the record discussions and breaks. You are allowed to speak with one another, but not about the case. You go home each day but cannot talk about the case in any way with your loved ones. It can be, at times, boring, lonely, and full of uncertainty. There’s quite a bit out of your control. Most importantly, once you are sworn in, the weight of the responsibility with which you’ve been charged begins to settle on your shoulders.

Throughout this week, the Fourth of July has been on my mind a great deal. We are afforded so many blessings and freedoms as citizens of this great country. When I found myself beginning to feel burdened and put out with the situation, I would remember my good fortune to be part of this nation. I have the right to work, the right to vote, to speak my mind freely and protest openly when I see injustice, even against my own government. I have the right to the presumption of innocence in the face of accusation, the right to face my accuser, the right to a competent defense, and the right to a trial where my guilt or lack of guilt will be decided by my peers. These freedoms and rights, if they are to work, demand an active participation and sacrifice from us all. So, this past week, I did my best to bear up under that responsibility, alongside 13 people who are no longer strangers, and the wheels of justice turned on.

One of the benefits of a great deal of downtime is the extra moments of reflection. It occurred to me many times that the balance of freedom and responsibility we’ve been granted as Americans isn’t unlike discipleship. In fact, when we teach new parents about baptism, we share with them that becoming an adopted daughter or son of God not only gives their child the gifts of life in Christ, but also the very real responsibilities that come with them. When we accept His blessings into our lives, whether for ourselves or on behalf of our children, we also accept obligations to serve. We commit to loving Him and one another as He loves us. We are charged with bringing others to Him, to model with our very lives the life and mission of Christ, even to his sacrifice on the cross. We are admonished to defend the weak, feed the hungry, and to tirelessly work for justice and peace for everyone.

Just as Jesus sends forth the twelve in today’s Gospel reading, we twelve were sent into the courtroom and, eventually, deliberation to do our best to fairly and justly defend the laws of our state, regardless of our own prejudices and despite any personal discomfort we may feel in our individual lives and the matter of the case. Was it inconvenient? Incredibly so. Did it inconvenience my coworkers, my family, and any of you who may have needed me last week? Undoubtedly. Did the disciples land in unwelcoming towns and less than luxurious accommodations? You bet they did. In the end, however, standing beneath the weight of responsibility is never expected without the balance of gifts and blessings enjoyed as a result of communities that work together and for one another, whether under the seal of the State of Minnesota or under the Banner of Heaven.

Happy Fourth of July blessings to you all, and may God bless America.

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

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