Between the Ends: May 31, 2016


Having just celebrated another Memorial Day, I got a jump start on Summer’s burgers, dogs, and watermelon. But I worry that the the deeper understanding behind the holiday has been lost. We all know that patriotic holidays are more than days off and time on the lake, but why is that? 
The founders of Memorial Day or Decoration Day as some of you will know it, saw a relationship between the God we love and the land we occupy. They understood that the patriotism we manifested was a nation’s grateful response to the blessings we had received from God. And so, reflecting on the patriotic concert the other evening at the PBS Memorial Day special, I’m struck by the growing cavern between patriotism and Christianity.  America is beautiful but not because she has people who die in Vietnam, Iraq, or North Korea, but because God shed His grace on all of us.  And that One act of love motivated others to pick up their crosses and give their lives for something bigger than hot dogs and pop in the campground.  I’m not sure this generation or the previous one gets it!
Ok, back to the special for a moment. As clearly and profoundly as the the lyrics to America the Beautiful declared it, the remainder of the program could muster no more gratitude to God than a “High-Five” to a higher power. Really? 
To memorialize, says Webster, is to honor by remembering, so when I honor the sacrifice of many, I must soon honor the sacrifice of One… The One who died to make me truly free.
Now, just to set the record straight, I served my country in the military, as did one of my sons. I served because I felt an obligation to defend our unique way of life, and to set aside my wants for something more lasting.
But let’s remember that it was God who moved the hearts of many (Pilgrims and Puritans) to sacrifice their way of life, and in some cases, their lives, if only to become that city on the hill for you. Which given our current state of affairs, makes the pledge of Allegiance, a bit sticky:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Stares of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…
Again, really?

God bless America– please!