As I was preparing to preach at our Wednesday Eucharist on September 11th, I kept being drawn back to memories from high school history classes about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union address from January 6, 1941. This speech, given before the United States had been attacked at Pearl Harbor but after we had heard the stories of atrocities against Jews and seen the fighting that was happening in Europe, was preparing the country for the possibility and necessity of engaging in the war. At the end of the speech, President Roosevelt refers to four essential human freedoms – this is the part that sticks in the back of my mind. He wrote this:

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peace time life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.

(See a digital copy of the actual speech text, complete with blue ink and penciled in commas, at http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/fourfreedoms.)

As the anniversary of the September 11th attacks approached, the United States was deciding how to respond to the chemical weapon use in Syria. This past week has seen terrorists attack at a mall in Kenya, killing many and injuring more, and choosing who to target based on whether they were Christian or Muslim – killing Muslim women and girls who were not veiled. This past week has also seen a terrorist bombing just at the end of Sunday worship at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar in Pakistan. Those targeted were the Christian minority. The attacks were decried by their Muslim brother and sister Pakistanis with one Muslim colleague of Titus Presler, an Episcopal missionary priest there saying “We Pakhtun people protect people – we do not destroy them.” (See http://titusonmission.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/hands-full-of-blood-protests-compassion-peshawar-after-the-blast/ for more on the bombing in Pakistan and the normal life of All Saints Anglican Church.)

I am drawn again to a deep hope for the four freedoms to be experienced by everyone everywhere in the world. I especially find myself praying for the peace that comes with having freedom from fear. This is a deep yearning and prayer that the beloved community, which is an expression of God’s Reign, God’s Kingdom, be made manifest, real, true. It is a deep prayer expressed every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for Social Justice, BCP p. 823)

Click here for Bishop Johnston's Prayer for the people and the Church in Pakistan and the Diocese of Peshawar, as well as for further information from the Diocese of Virginia about the All Saints Anglican Church.