I was in church last Sunday, as I am most Sundays. Yet, this was a bit different. This service emphasized Veteran’s Day, with appropriate and due recognition of the various congregants who have served for each of us.
I was first struck by the imagery of our lead pastor standing beneath the cross flanked by dualing video screens that each broadcast a beautiful scene of Old Glory waving gently in the wind. It occured to me that our gathering represented the best of the best – God, Country, and Family.
The service opened with singing America the Beautiful, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the collective recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
America the Beautiful was particularly well done – perhaps more soulful than even Ray Charles did it justice. Have you listened deeply to the lyrics? Starting with the second verse…
“Oh beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern impassion’d stress…
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!…
Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!…
Oh beautiful for patriot dream…”
Pilgrim feet. Impassioned stress. Heroes proved in liberating strife. Patriot dream. The first of those who served on our behalf. The songs recognize the early American Heroes and Veterans – and all who have since obliged.
As we moved into the Battle Hymn of the Republic, I listened on, perhaps more intently digesting the lyrics than I had before.
“…His truth is marching on…His day is marching on…Since God is marching on…”
“He sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat,
He is sitting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat,
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
Be jubilant, my feet,
Our God is marching on.”
And then the Pledge. “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America…One nation, under God…”
And so it is. One nation. Under God.
I was reminded last Sunday of not only the service and sacrifice of our Veterans, but our purpose as our founding fathers crafted the very cornerstones of what would become the foundation of these United States of America.
Our very own Declaration of Independence – in its very first sentence – establishes us as a People subject to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Its second sentence references our Creator. And it ultimately concludes by saying “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Divine Providence. Pledges of Life. Pledges of Fortune. Pledges of sacred Honor.
One Nation. Under God.
Those we celebrate – our Veterans – are the true soldiers and warriors of Divine Providence. They have pledged their lives. They have foregone their fortune. And they have seved with sacred Honor. For you. And for me.
My hope is that we honor them each and every day – as we do Him.
Others well before us fought gallantly to detach us from the taxing throne of England so that we may be free to speak and worship at His throne. Many since have fought as gallantly – and many have died – to keep our freedoms alive and oppress hatred and darness as it rises in various corners of the earth.
It occurs to me that we have a choice between Apologetics and Patriotism. A choice between Apathy and Witness.
We are fortunate to live in a nation where we are free to gather, worship, and pledge our allegiance to the flag that signifies our Republic…”One nation, under God…”
So let’s do it. Let’s stop hiding our Pledge and re-writing patriotic songs. Unlike many of a generation before us, welcome the troops home – embrace them and honor them by hiring them and restoring their own American Dream. Return to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Worry less about highlighting the ignorances of Man’s Law and more about how you can better abide by and extol the fortunes of following His law. And honor our heroes by actively practicing our freedoms.
When we truly restore our pursuit of being “One Nation, Under God” to the same ferocity that determined this nation’s founding, we are America the Beautiful.
Blessings to all.