A family was visiting New York City where toured many of the historic sights, the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, and the United Nations Building. One evening they took a tour of New York Harbor. Perhaps the most beautiful sight was to ferry past the Statue of Liberty. That night as the father was putting his little six-year old daughter to bed he noticed a tear rolling down her cheek. A bit perplexed, he said to his daughter, “Why are you crying, honey?” In complete innocence she replied, “Daddy, I was thinking about that lady out there in the dark- with nobody to help her hold up the lamp. Shouldn’t we help her?”
Even if you’ve never seen her in person, you know, “Liberty Enlightening the World.” She is a most amazing women. When she was first erected nearly a hundred-thirty years ago, she towered over the New York skyline. Her torch was a veritable lighthouse. Today, she stands dwarfed by skyscrapers. Atop her head she wears a crown of seven spikes representing the seven seas and seven continents. Her sandal is 25 foot in length giving her a standard women’s shoes size of 879.
Interestingly, Lady Liberty is not standing still. A symbolic detail that people cannot see is the broken chain wrapped around the statue’s feet. Protruding from the bottom of her robe, the broken chains symbolize her strident forward movement, enlightening the world with her torch free from oppression and servitude. This great symbol of freedom greets the world in the famous poem by Emma Lazarus to “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp. Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Now the language may be a bit strange sounding, but the sentiment is quite simple. Indeed, the little six-year old grasped the simplicity of the message. For over a century the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” has offered a welcoming hand to the millions of immigrants seeking freedom in this country. The child understood that in order for her to keep welcoming the stranger and foreigner to our shores, we need to help. It is a challenge, for our nation as well. The broken chain is an important element to this self-understanding. Freedom is always on the move, and can never be kept in one place.
My friends, on this Fourth of July, I would like to share with you my hope that as a community of faith, and as citizens of this great nation, we will continue to keep on the move and help raise that torch of liberty and freedom for all to see.
Peace, Pastor Arden Haug