Celebrating Our Independence

As our nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, I am spending a week of vacation in Williamsburg, VA, right in the heart of United States history! The “Historic Triangle” (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) is one of our family’s favorite places to visit. So much to see and do and learn. This week especially, the energy there is high!
 
It can be easy to get carried away in patriotism around the Fourth of July, when we remember the sacrifice people made (and continue to make) in the fight for independence and freedom. With each fight for freedom, we know blood has been shed, and we grieve the loss of life, of family member, of service man or woman, of friend. We give thanks to God for all who have given so much so that we may enjoy the privileges we experience today, such as freedom of worship or freedom of speech.
 
The shadow side of patriotism is to think that the United States is the only land God has chosen to bless and her people the only ones deserving of God’s blessing. Sometimes we think that for the United States to be the best, other peoples, other places must be “less than.” Shortly after 9-11, I heard This Is My Song sung by a church choir. It is such a gentle and important reminder that all are precious in God’s sight. I share it with you as a prayer-song that is as strong and meaningful as America the Beautiful or God Bless America. Perhaps you will add it to your lineup of patriotic songs this week, remembering that God’s blessings are not limited to time or space.
 
This Is My Song
Hymn text by Lloyd Stone, 1934; Tune: Finlandia (Be Still My Soul)
 
This is my song, O god of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
 
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
So hear my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
 
May we remember with servants’ hearts that the whole world is in God’s hands.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor