Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And The Caissons Go Rolling Along

Like many (especially Southern Baptist) churches, the local congregation of which I'm a member celebrated "God and Country Day" last Sunday. Whatever a respective church may name it, this patriotic service to celebrate the great US of A is a cherished tradition in many old-school churches across the fruited plains.

I always get a hearty chuckle from "God and Country Day." Congregants sport their red, white, and blue attire and, most surprisingly, tolerate deviations from the "typical" service. We sing the military anthems and several hymns of country. A guest speaker, maybe a member of the military or local politician, extols the virtues of America. One fellow congregant once confided in me, "Man, what would happen if we'd do all this for Jesus?" His point is the pomp and circumstance that is integrated in this once-a-year patriotic service, to celebrate America, is certainly above and beyond what you would find in a "typical" worship service, presumably to celebrate Jesus.

I can say that most "Celebrate America" services I've been a part of revolve around honoring our veterans. This is certainly a worthy endeavor; the sacrifices of our veterans are indeed priceless. While July 4th services make sense in our culture, I do wonder what a Chinese Christian (who endures considerable hardship to practice his faith in community) would say about our "Celebrate America "services. Would we as Americans be offended if an Iraqi church took a Sunday to honor Iraq and veterans of the recent unpleasantness? Should anything other than the Gospel be celebrated in a worship service?

Undoubtedly, America's religious freedom has been a explosive catalyst for the cause of Christ. It's not an outrageous to claim that God has divinely ensured the successes and freedoms of this experiment in freedom we call the USA. But don't be under the auspices that America's founding fathers were evangelical Christians (a common precept spouted off in the "Celebrate America" services); George Washington and Thomas Jefferson didn't fill any idle time by singing "Shout to the Lord" or "God of Our Fathers" (here is an interesting article if you desire to explore that assertion more). Is America a Christian nation? Depends on what a Christian nation is.

No comments: