Sunday, July 4, 2010
God and Freedom and Pepto Bismol
Happy Belated Independence Day!
And yes, apparently pigs celebrate it too, though I bet that one wouldn't mind a little independence of his own, a chance to stroll his piggy toes freely through the amber waves of grain, untethered by pig leashes of any kind.
(Full disclosure: Watch out pigs. I love bacon.)
Did you have a fun 4th?
I love the holiday, the small town parades with fire engines and dogs wearing hats, the red, white, and blue bunting and the hot dogs and hamburgers, the pigs on parade.
There's just an eensy weensy part that makes me nervous. Okay, two parts, if you count the trepidation I feel as my husband and young pyromaniac set off Crazy Bob firecrackers on the driveway and then dance around with their arms in the air, laughing like mad scientists.
I guess my tummy just starts to percolate whenever people start tumbling God words and GO USA words all together.
Does this ever make you nervous too?
I love my country madly. Our four years in France gave me a new gratitude for the American can do spirit, our beautiful optimism, our willingness to reach out our hands to help those in need.
I'm thankful for people like my grandfather, who died ensuring the freedoms we hold dear, for people like my husband and my brother in law, who've given years of their lives in service to our country. We have such a rich heritage and live with privileges and rights unavailable to so many others in the world. We've been richly blessed.
But as a Christian, I pledge my foremost allegiance to God, a God who loves all of his children as much as any others.
So when I look at the freedoms and the blessings that I enjoy and then survey the world and see the need around me, what do I do with that?
As always, God can help me work this out. Gathering to pray and think with other believers usually makes things clearer.
Take a look at the scripture we read in worship.
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,*14 but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Galatians 5: 1, 13-14
Although Paul wrote these words to remind the Galatians that Christ frees them from legalism in their faith, from the overwhelming list of rules on diet and circumcision, the message speaks to us as well, warning us against self indulgence, self focus, perhaps against isolationism and nationalism.
It was a beautiful morning of worship. We heard an awesome sermon, sang O Beautiful for Spacious Skies and My Country, 'Tis of Thee. But when the choir stood to sing This is My Song, voila, my need for Pepto Bismol vanished.
Do you know the song? It's a Finnish anthem, Methodist hymn, and a new favorite of mine.
Joan Baez sings a version of the first two verses here, if you're interested.
This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, oh God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
This is my prayer, o Lord of all earth's kingdoms
Thy kingdom come on earth thy will be done.
Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve him.
And hearts united learn to live as one.
Oh hear my prayer, o God of all the nations.
Myself I give thee; let thy will be done.
So today as I look at our flag hanging from my porch, I'll thank God for his many blessings, and sing a Tiny Tim prayer for all the nations. God bless us, every one.
Tell me, as you splash around in the morning-after patriotism, how does this strike you? Have you had the same questions? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a great Monday, y'all!