Tuesday, September 16, 2014
This month our nation has been celebrating two important events in its history. Last weekend marked the two-hundredth anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and of course Thursday was the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. Fans at baseball and football games have been treated to military flyovers and color guards, giant flags have been displayed, patriotic music is everywhere, and military camouflage and other patriotic themes have adorned everything from baseball uniforms to football cheerleader bikinis.
Now our leaders are telling us that unless we go to war in Iraq again, and possibly in Syria and Ukraine, our future as a nation is in doubt.
In light of all that, think it is well to remember the old Bill Gaither song that goes
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There’s just something about that name.
Master, savior, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim:
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that name.
I’ve seen videos of a Sunday morning service in an evangelical church where the congregation sang “The Stars and Stripes Forever”: “By our right and by our might it waves forever!” They even repeated “forever” three times. But I’d like to suggest that there will be a time when that star-spangled banner will no longer wave. Just as today we talk about “the former Confederate States of America,” “the former Soviet Union,” “the former Yugoslavia,” and “the former Czechoslovakia,” someday people will speak of “the former United States of America.”
The Bible promises that we Christians “are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be destroyed.” It is to that kingdom that we owe our allegiance. So “Let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”
Let us pray.
We thank you for the blessings of our nation. We thank you that we have lived most of our lives without fear of famine, war, or disease. We thank you for the freedom to worship, and we ask forgiveness for the times that we have complained that this or that peripheral aspect of congregational worship has not been to our liking.
We thank you for President Obama, for Congress and the Supreme Court, for Governor Corbett and the state assembly and courts, as well as for our local government officials. We thank you for those who are willing to risk their lives to go into harm’s way to protect innocent life. Like us they are all people made in your image, and like us they are rebels against you and your law. Forgive them and us of our sins, and give us all reverence for you, courage to stand against injustice, and a desire to do justice, to love mercy, and most of all to walk humbly with you.
We have sinned against you, both in the evil we have done and in the good we have left undone. Forgive us, we pray.
Please use your church to heal the nations. May those who know you be able to bring peace to Ukraine, Syria, Gaza, and Nigeria by living lives of service, by presenting your vision of justice to ease the oppression of those who don’t know you, and most of all by fulfilling the Great Commission and making disciples. May your people in this nation be quick to listen, slow to speak, and especially slow to go to war. Instead of a great warrior nation, may we be known as a nation that heals the victims of war and knows how to keep wars from starting.
We pray for our enemies both personal and national. May we learn how to make our enemies into our friends, and most importantly into your friends.
We thank you for missionaries who leave their comfort zones to go around the block or around the world to tell the good news of Jesus. We thank you for those who give money to make that work possible. Please bless them, keep them safe, and enable them to bear fruit that will last for eternity.
We thank you most of all for sending your Son into the world. We thank you for his life of service, his words of life, for his death to pay for our sins, and for raising him to life to make us right with you.