Given by Rev. Madison Shockley July 4, 2021

Those of us today must understand the prophetic traditions of ancient Israel. We cannot understand Jesus unless we understand the traditions that produce him and in which he stood. Jesus read about the ancient prophets when he went to the synagogue. After his call at the Jordan river, Jesus went out and spoke in the prophetic tradition.  There was a difference, earlier prophets spoke to their nation, Jesus spoke to the world. Earlier prophets spoke to the nation of Israel, Jesus spoke of the Empire of God. We are at a disadvantage. We have freedom of expression and assembly. Under a king, dictator, or Rome, there was not these freedoms. Dissention was dangerous. Kings/Queens/leaders appoint government and religious officials. They control all aspects of the nation/empire. Luckily, the United States is a democracy. Today, we celebrate our freedom by listening to the prophets and their messages. Ezekiel condemned the nation for its practice of idolatry. Today we have the practice of idolatry by those who still believe in the ideas from the Confederacy. Confederacy tried to sunder democracy. We shall pass on the messages of Ezekiel as modern day prophets. We will raise our voices for acceptance, equality, and love for all of God’s children.