Pondering for Saturday, July 4, 2020

Eucharistic Readings for the 4th of July

Deuteronomy 10:17-21  Psalm 145 or 145:1-9  Hebrews 11:8-16  Matthew 5:43-48

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11: 16)

I decided to use our National Anthem verses for this Fourth of July blog.  What I take from our Hebrew reading is God’s will for this planet to have, as President Reagan once said, a “City shining on a hill.” In the years to come, Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” sermon would become “the shining city on a hill” of President Reagan: a celebration of individual freedom, material prosperity, and American power—above all, a call for Americans to renew their optimism and believe in themselves again.”  “Beginning in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan placed that line, from that sermon, at the center of his political career. Tracing the story of America from John Winthrop forward, Reagan built a powerful articulation of American exceptionalism—the idea, as he explained, “that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage.” (https://www.neh.gov/article/how-america-became-city-upon-hill)

So let us sing: “O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?  And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.  O say does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

I never realized that 2 questions were asked in the first verse of our national anthem.  The answer to both however is “Yes.”   Did you know there is a second verse, and in my humble opinion, a more powerful verse?  It too asks a question, but it makes a declaration also.  Here it is;

O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand between their loved homes and the war’s desolation! Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation?  Then conquer we must, when our cause it 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.” (Francis Scott Key: Hymn 720 of The 1982 Hymnal )

I am a black man, but standing proudly I say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

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