Memorial Day (for America or the Church?)

I was sitting in church today and I was slightly confused by the music line up. Included in the list were “America, the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. In the midst of these songs was “Faith of our Fathers”. It might seem to make sense to most. I even thought that it would be a “patriot” hymn. But I was surprised that the song didn’t reflect that mentality. The patriotic element in that particular song actually does not apply to the nation of America.

This leads me to a thought. I keep recalling the term nation of God. Many seem to make the difference between it and America very fuzzy. I think we need to be careful (I also think that the American flag should be removed from the pulpit or place lower than the Christian flag, but that is a matter for another post). Let’s think about this term. we tend to assume that this nation is one under God, much like Israel was under God. We even claim the blessings toward Israel as our own. But if you look at the setup of our country and the way we form our laws, it is very far from being the nation of God. Also, the Kingdom of God/Heaven was preached much earlier than America was imagined, much less established.

“Faith of Our Fathers” is a good hymn. But if you pay close attention, you begin to see that it is about the people in the Church from the beginning of our existence. I don’t think its a good idea to use this hymn for memorial day. You have to be careful. You can’t confuse America with the Church.

Another point that seems to be prevalent in the song is the point that the singers want to see all nations brought to Christ. This should probably be applied to America also. And the song seems to promote a viewpoint that is almost pacifist, which stands in the face of a holiday that wants to honor those who have fought and fallen in war. This song seems to promote a mindset that would actually mourn more than speak proudly. Instead of a handshake and a thank you to every soldier, we might be called to hug them and say “I’m sorry.”

I want to add that I’m not against honoring people or paying an amount of appreciation towards a country that has attempted to give your religion the best situation to worship in. I even think that that is a must. Give America honorable mention if your living in America. But look at America and think that God offers better things than even America can offer.

I’ll end the post with this statement. America rose like other nations, and it will probably fall like many others before it. But the Kingdom of Heaven will last forever! Who would you want to hold your future in its hands.

Grace and peace to you all.

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5 thoughts on “Memorial Day (for America or the Church?)

  1. Good thoughts Russell. Those biblical promises that we seem to claim for our country from the OT were for Israel. Too many take those promises out of context to make them for us. As long as people in the country live like Christ, then our nation will be blessed. But passing laws will never prove a thing. I too struggle with the American Flag in the Sanctuary. It is as if we, America, staked a claim in God’s Holy place. But God’s Holy place has been opened to all by Christ. Like you, I am still thankful to be in a country that allows us to worship our Heavenly Father. I agree, saying I’m sorry to our soldiers might be called for, but we can also thank them too. Sadly, we are still in the “already/but not yet” Kingdom, which means suffering, like wars, will continue to be the arena that we Christians must live out our faith. Blessings on you bro.

    • Good thoughts, Scott. My point with this one was to move in the other direction with Christianity. I encourage you to look at Bercott’s A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. It’s intriguing to see how the early Church Fathers viewed patriotism. Besides, that source is an amazing source…period.

  2. A little slow on reading my RSS feeds.

    You are right — too many have equated the US of our day with OT Israel. And I’m not even sure that modern-day Israel is a very godly nation.

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