A few weeks late, but I just had the chance to read something one of my friends wrote on the very excellent, highly recommended Burner Blog about Christian worship and the Fourth of July. It is a good and challenging read on the clash (or lack of clash, depending on your vantage point) between Christian worship and nationalism.
Here’s a snippet:
This past year I have been serving in a mainline Protestant congregation in an upper-class suburb of Los Angeles. The worship planning staff typically meets on a weekly basis, looking at services several weeks out. On the first week we met for planning, the suggestion was made to sing several patriotic hymns (“My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, “O Beautiful For Spacious Skies”, and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”). Someone also suggested that we distribute American flags to all the children and to the congregation to wave during the final hymn.
I protested this display of nationalism in the planning meeting on the basis that the worship of God leaves no room for the worship of country. The flag-waving was inappropriate for Christian worship, I argued, because it causes people to think of America and American history instead of the triune God and God’s eternal reign. While the hymns include verses that may be appropriate for worship, they are framed by other verses that speak of the glory of America, a potentially troubling idea for Christians engaged in worship of God. Furthermore, the text of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was written during the Civil War, a time in which many people assumed that God’s truth was embodied by an army that killed other armies. My final point was to point out that we were celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion on July 4th and that the witness it makes to Jesus Christ would require our full attention.
Read the full article here.