I have to confess that the Fourth of July is considered one of my favorite holidays. From my childhood, I even have cherished parades, outdoor grills, and fireworks. I never omit the Fourth of July concert on the Capitol Mall on PBS and these days fireworks on Craigville beach. but, greater than that, i like the marching bands and song of the day – “The star Spangled Banner,” “God Bless the us,” and anything else by John Philip Souza. I’m a small town boy at coronary heart, and now live in a Cape Cod village with wheeled vehicle parades and homemade floats. it’s a day to celebrate our land and its freedoms. i was raised an Eisenhower Republican, accept as true with in fiscal responsibility, and assist peace through energy and alliance.
however, this yr things are diverse. With stories about babies separated from Daftar Poker their parents on our borderlands, presidential incivility, veiled or glaring, to my ears racism, upward thrust in hate crimes, fearmongering, and xenophobia, i’m doubtful what exactly to have fun. we’ve misplaced our national spirit. We no longer even attempt to deliver ethical authority in domestic or global affairs. we are a large nation that has abandoned its spiritual GPS.
Now, I’m now not one to join God and country too closely. In contrast to those that verify to conflate Jesus and Donald Trump, believing him and never Jesus to be their savior, I accept as true with that theocracy is horrible for international locations and religions alike. but, these countrywide holidays – not simply the US vacations – convey out our deepest emotions of gratitude, love of the land, and hopefulness. They don’t seem to be just celebrations of geography or alternatives for flag waving, they are also occasions for reflection and, at times, confession, of the dissonance between truth and aspiration in our country wide life.
All international locations are wicked and ambiguous and america isn’t any exception. Many americans suppose exceptionally dismayed this yr. we’ve high ideals and sometimes base realities. we now have commonly answered too slowly to the challenges of the ethical arc of background. we’ve proclaimed the equality of humankind and defined some humans as non-human, unworthy of self-choice, equality, or loving relationships. we have affirmed the search for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and condemned some individuals, in line with the accidents of economics, ethnicity, place of beginning, or sexuality, to lives of distress, duplicity, and dilemma. we now have touted the melting pot however discriminated in opposition t immigrants. We talk of “crowning” our good with brotherhood – and sisterhood – and yet turn our backs on family values and threaten to strip immigrants of constitutional due process.
Now, some preachers and politicians say the answer to the united states’s issues is getting returned to God. They agree with that a national Day of Prayer will convey the usa returned to its glory days. while I confirm the magnitude of values and spirituality in national well-being, I believe that there’s a more important question. It centers on: What type of God do we invoke when we consider the life of a nation – every nation – and the destiny of a planet? In elevating the connection between our photos of God and our national policies, I’m no longer suggesting we return to a theocracy. I cherish our pluralism and the implied democracy of revelation, even among atheists and agnostics. Nor should still we baptize our guidelines with the phrases “God’s will” or “the authorities are ordained via God.” however, for these of us who call ourselves individuals of religion, how we bear in mind God may well be a depend of life and demise, and can be a formative component in shaping international, prison, and economic policy.
As I give some thought to our religious history, I believe that the unofficial god of us of a has been the god of appear fate, the Calvinist god, who guided our pilgrim folks throughout the ocean, inspired them to settle the land from sea to shining sea, and gave them the appropriate to break its earliest inhabitants. This god “selected” the us for a destiny, making us – like the little ones of Israel – fantastic among the many countries. This god gave us this land simply as God gave Canaan to the Hebrews. whereas this type of view has been motivational in terms of countrywide expansion, leading to the formation of a great country we now have these days, it has no longer all the time been inspirational or moral – it has ended in slavery, genocide, and chauvinism. Many national political and non secular leaders nevertheless have fun this “almighty” god, who favors america amongst peoples, giving us the correct to do what we please with “our” supplies, even when they fall outsider our nation’s borders! And, now doing what we please with children who evil our borders!
Now, i am unclear if our political leaders will embrace alternate options to the God of happen fate. models of yank exceptionalism – and now the usa first and American xenophobia – exhibit up in just about each baby-kisser’s speeches, now and again seriously, often gratuitously. however, let me imply a imaginative and prescient of god which makes it possible for us to be part of self-affirmation with humility and the affirmation of the giftedness of alternative countries. Christian doctrine affirms the omnipresence of God, however seldom explores the lived and useful that means of this doctrine. to assert that God is omnipresent is to say that God is present and performing in each person and situation. From this point of view, there are not any boundaries either to love or revelation, it is, if we affirm that the God we worship displays the lifestyles and instructing of Jesus. For Jesus, love changed into the basic spiritual precept. God’s love protected our enemies as well as our comradely residents, it embraced the poor as smartly because the filthy rich, and the forgotten as neatly because the privileged. God’s love embraced the pilgrim, the stranger, the foreigner, despite foundation! therefore, God’s presence and action are to be understood basically when it comes to love. The only vigor, from this perspective, that God embodies is loving vigor and this must eventually include every person, no longer only a select few. There are no outsiders to God’s love – and this contains countries as well as individuals. God loves the US, and God loves every other americans. This does not investigate with exactness public coverage, but it surely affirms the magnitude of compassionate sorts of public policy.
Will a change in photos of God’s nature trade united states international, criminal, and economic policy? Will changes in pictures of God change our immigration coverage and behavior toward families crossing the borders searching for the same issue our ancestors as soon as did? i will be able to’t claim to know the respond. however, i’m bound that it’s going to trade our language and that’s a vital place to commence. The words we use shape, to a point, how we view ourselves and others – in terms of their cost and rights. If we confirm a god of unlimited and unbounded love, we will no longer be able to name ourselves “brilliant” with out maintaining the cost of other nations. whereas the USA might also have a selected ancient vocation, so do different countries. we love our country, but so do the citizens of different lands, even people who we describe as enemies and opponents. This beginning may help us, on the very least, to embody the phrases of Abraham Lincoln, that we pray not for God to be on our aspect, however to be on God’s aspect in our personal and countrywide lives.
whereas gratefully singing our country wide Anthem this Fourth of July, we may additionally take part singing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” as a name to confirm all of the peoples of our land and an idea to definitely are searching for liberty and justice for all. We could additionally carry our voices to the “song of Peace” also, referred to as “here is My song” to the tune of Finlandia:
here’s my song, oh God of all the countries,a tune of peace for lands afar and mine.here’s my domestic, the nation the place my heart is;here are my hopes, my goals, my holy shrine;but other hearts in different lands are beatingwith hopes and dreams as true and excessive as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,and daylight beams on clover leaf and pine.however different lands have daylight too and clover,and skies are far and wide as blue as mine.here is my tune, thou God of all the countries;a song of peace for their land and for mine.
this is my song, oh God of all the nations,a song of peace for lands afar and mine.this is my domestic, the nation where my heart is;listed here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;however different hearts in different lands are beatingwith hopes and desires as genuine and excessive as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.but other lands have daylight too and clover.”and skies are far and wide as blue as mine.here’s my music, thou God of the entire nations;a tune of peace for their land and for mine.
This 12 months, i’ll sing the typical patriotic hymns and i will honor those who have served our nation in battle, however i will also sing hymns of peace, and add peace crusaders and justice seekers to my hymns of gratitude for this super land. i will also pray words of confession. God bless america! God bless the immigrant baby and the forgotten child within our borders? God bless all of the earth’s peoples! God bless our respectable earth!
+++Bruce Epperly is Pastor, South Congregational Church, UCC, in Centerville, MA, and a professor within the D.Min. application at Wesley Theological Seminary. he is author of over forty books, together with “The Mystic in You: Discovering a God crammed World,” “fitting fire: non secular Practices for international Christians,” “The Gospel of Winnie the Pooh,” and three volumes of an ongoing series of short books on process theology: “process and Ministy,” “manner Spirituality: practising Holy event,” and “manner Theology: Embracing experience with God.” He will also be reached for lectures, retreats, and seminars at drbruceppperlyaolm.