Celebration and Lament

July 04, 2022 · by Whitney Gothra

Happy 4th of July to all our American readers!

Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The colonies in America declared they were free from the rule of England.

I normally spend July 4th dressing my kids in matching red, white, and blue outfits and bringing chips to the cookout. I have been privileged to enjoy freedom and liberty as an American my whole life, so I never really think back to the meaning and importance of the original July 4th.

In the 17th and 18th centuries in England, it was a big deal which political events were celebrated and which were mourned. They spread messages of support by celebrating certain political or royal figures and messages of opposition by lamenting them. Speeches and toasts given in favor of or disapproval of figures and events were given in public and then published in papers.

When the American Revolution first began, early Americans employed these political tactics to further their cause. Then came Independence Day. These early Americans fought to be free. They would go on to fight until the victory was won. But July 4th was a victorious moment for them to declare their liberty.

They used the same tactics of political celebrations and laments following this monumental day. Parades, speeches, and cannons celebrated the victory, just as we celebrate our liberty in parades and fireworks shows now. But what I find so interesting is how the early Americans used lament to celebrate. Several towns in the colonies held fake funerals for the king of England. They would use the portrayal of his death to symbolize the end of tyranny and the demise of British rule in America.

They used the traditions of celebration and lament to help them symbolically step forward into a new season.

There is power in what we celebrate and in what we mourn.

Are we celebrating the things that are most important to us? To God? Are we marking the moments that signify new seasons, new victories, new mercies? And are we lamenting the right things? Letting our hearts be broken over what breaks God’s?

This brings to mind ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” 

And verse 4:

“a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Just as the early Americans knew the power of harnessing our emotions, we today can step into the seasons God is calling us to. We can respond to the things of this world, to events and figures, with the season and time God is calling us to. We can rejoice over abundant life and mourn with the broken and abused. We can weep with the sick and laugh with the healed. We can lament over sin and dance with joy with the repentant.

There is power in our emotions and our responses. Just as they shaped the early days of our country, we can let them help shape the next generation. May what we choose to celebrate and what we choose to mourn continually point the way back to God’s heart.

Whitney Gothra

About Whitney Gothra

Whitney Gothra and her husband Timothy have been married for around fifteen years, and they have three sweet and spicy girls, Ruby, Selah, and Marigold. They pastor the Apostolic Church of Wabash in Wabash, Indiana. You can connect with her on Instagram @theflourishstudio or online at whitneygothra.com.