Since moving to the city almost 10 years ago (14 years for Andrew), the 4th of July has become one of our favorite holidays. It's not the fireworks or the barbeque or the patriotism that makes it special for our family, although, those are all nice things. Celebrating the 4th in the city, with all its excitement and community, has come to represent so much of what we love about our urban neighborhoods.
It is one of the best days of the year to get to know people because everyone's family and friends mingle with everyone else's family and friends as the excitement spills from the front yards to the streets. The smell of barbeque intertwines with the smoke from firecrackers, a tantalizing hint of things to come as a parade of bouncing red, white, and blue beads on the end of little girls' braids begin the percussion of the night.
Sharing sparklers and small talk with neighbors and exchanging names and barbeque makes the night fun as well as an important ministry experience. As night falls, the boom and crackle of fireworks fill the air and continue on until long after you want to be asleep. However, as we try to drift off to sleep, well after midnight, we will embrace the pops and flashes through our bedroom window for the inroads to new relationships and Kingdom opportunities.
Sometimes difficult things also happen that remind us why the Lord is working to free and heal lives in the city. Excitement can turn volatile as parties go late into the night, but even in these moments there are opportunities to be part of our neighbors' lives in deeper ways.
It is these things that make the 4th of July one of our favorite holidays. And now, Andrew and I love that we can celebrate these things as a family as we introduce our sons to the experience. I don't think I've missed a 4th in the city since moving to North St. Louis so many years ago and I hope that never changes.