Wednesday, July 6

Fourth of July ... and the Sunday before

I love the Fourth of July for a lot of reasons:

1) For our family, it has traditionally been a time for family and friends. During my younger days all of the cousins would go to our grandparents' house, ride our bikes or walk in the Hepler, KS Fourth of July parade, and watch the fireworks at the Hepler softball field. Now we have a cookout at our home for whomever is in town (there was about 20 of us this year) and then head off to watch a fireworks display (and it was the best Fayetteville fireworks display I have seen). All in all, it is a good, relaxing day with people you care for.

2) I also love my country. God has blessed us with the privilege of living in a nation with freedoms and luxuries that most of the world cannot even imagine. The freedom to worship, to speak, to gather, to dissent. And I'm proud of my country. No, I don't agree with all that has been done and I'm often concerned about the directions in which we are heading. But (to quote Lee Greenwood) I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud of my relatives and friends who have served (and are serving) in the service of our country all over the world. I love to sing the National Anthem and to say the Pledge of Allegiance. And, secretly, I even like some of those fiesty Toby Keith songs!

But ...

The one Sunday I most dread is the Sunday before the Fourth of July. Somehow, somewhere, many in America have made their patriotism a religious thing. Many churches around the nation make the Sunday before the Fourth "God and Country Sunday" - with the program full of patriotic songs and sermons and plays and the rest.

I'm just not comfortable with that. I don't go to church to sing praises to our nation or to pledge my allegiance to a flag or the republic for which it stands. I go to church to worship my God and commit my life to following Him - to worship and repent and listen to Him. Singing the praises of something else or using that time set aside for God to pledge my allegiance to another entity just feels almost idolatrous. At least it does to me.

Please understand that this is my own personal pet "peeve" - my own conviction. And I'm not judging anyone's motives in what they do. Others are able to handle this conflict more easily than I. I attended the church I grew up in last weekend. My brother preached and did a great job of talking about the liberty that we have in Christ. The congregation did sing the National Anthem and another patriotic song. I'm sure that no one noticed, but I just didn't sing those songs. I would gladly at another time. But not then and not there.

Here is
an article in Christianity Today that you might find interesting. I found myself resonating with much of it.


ireallylikefootball said...

hooray for toby keith's fiestiness!

heythisisval said...

Patriotic services are one of my pet peeves too. I actual wrote a blog on it I'm going to post soon.

It took me a while to figure out that Michael T was you. I thought it was some random person who left me a comment.