Sunday, July 5, 2015

We Are A Nation Under God And Under His Law

Pentecost 6B 2015

Fr. Dale Matson

It is often said that we are a nation of laws. We often point to our constitution and bill of rights as our guarantees of freedom. We are not a nation of laws; we are one nation under God indivisible. Our government did not grant our freedoms to us. God granted our freedoms to us. Listen to a portion of our Declaration Of Independence on July 4th 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men; deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”   

Our founding fathers were Christians. Listen to this prayer.
“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ. – This is a prayer of our first president George Washington.

It seems only fitting that on Independence Weekend I would be discussing liberty. This is true in our national sense and it is true in a spiritual sense.

Much of our Old Testament is a remembering. It is God speaking through the leaders and prophets and reminding the people of their history, their destiny and their dependence on God. This is what we celebrate today also on Independence weekend.

We are told that we should embrace diversity and be tolerant of those who do not hold the same views. I don’t have problems with that as a Christian. The problem is that as a Christian, I am seeing an increasing lack of tolerance for Christian views. We are told that we are no longer a Christian nation yet many of our national songs are filled with a Christian message.

There has been an attempt at uncoupling God from our nation. Leaders say today that we are not a Christian nation but look at the lyrics of some of our national songs. The last verse in “My Country Tis Of Thee” states, “Our father's God to, Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light; Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!”

At sporting events we only sing the first verse of The Star Spangled Banner that became our National Anthem. This is the final verse of our national anthem. “O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand, between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation; Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our trust “And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

In the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” we hear this in the final verse, “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the Sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.” I was a member of our choir that sang this when we graduated from public high school in 1962. It could not be sung today. 

The only true freedom is freedom under God. Apart from God we are slaves to sin, and Satan. Today it is fashionable for citizens to walk all over our flag that represents our county. You can see it done on YouTube. When I was in 6th grade, it was my job to hoist the flag at the beginning of the school day and bring it down at the end of the school day. We would fold it carefully into a triangle. The triangle represented the tricornered hats of the colonial soldiers who fought for our country's independence. We would then give the flag to our school principal. If it accidently touched the ground it was supposed to be burned. There was a reverence and respect for the flag that symbolized our country. When I put our nation's flag up yesterday to celebrate the 239th anniversary of Independence Day, I wondered who would be offended by our flag as they drove by our house. Certainly not the many immigrants who decorate their entire lawns with small flags.

One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln had this to say, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Here is what St. Peter had to say in Scripture and is true for us today. “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
        
Finally, on page 820 of the BCP, Prayer 18 states,

For our Country
“Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our Heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all, which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” God bless America.
          






 



1 comment:

underground pewster said...

God has blessed America, but Americans must never forget that the blessing comes following the repentance, and I fear we are becoming a nation of the unrepentant.