image of Smithsonian museum of African American History & Culture
“Gratitude, Faith, Love, Hope”

On Sunday, I told the congregation that this past 4th of July was hard for me to get into the spirit of the holiday. Early in the day, I heard the news about the tragic mass shooting at the Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. I had spent close to a year there consulting a church with their capital campaign. The former mayor of the town was part of the campaign leadership team, as were other community members. Although it has been nearly 20 years since I was there, I knew that some of those people with whom I worked rather closely would have been at the parade last week. I wondered if any of them were shot. I wondered if any of their family members were killed or injured. I wondered how many funerals they would be attending in the days to come.

To be completely transparent, most of the news these days has been very difficult to hear. I almost dread turning on the radio to NPR every morning. So much of what our country promotes regarding independence and freedom these days seems the opposite of what our founding fathers would have wanted and certainly different from what Jesus and his early followers taught about freedom.

We began this week diving into the Letter to the Colossians and we find in the opening chapter 4 themes that help us both to figure out what freedom meant to Jesus and also how to cope with national politics when so many of our leaders who claim to be followers of Jesus seem to not be following him at all.


I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on these four themes—in terms of how they help you to define true freedom and also how they might help you determine a role you might play in helping our society to overcome and end inequality, racism and injustice. May these themes guide us and may they sustain us and help us to thrive as individuals, families, communities and as a nation.

Aloha nui loa!
Kahu Alan Akana