I love the Fourth of July! My family groans a bit about the local parade-too long, too few marching bands, too many random local businesses represented by decorated cars, too many embarrassing political protesters. I really don't mind any of that. It isn't "The Music Man" or Disney World, it's just my hometown being themselves. I always stand for the flag. I always clap and tear up for the veterans. And it's a great way to get a sunburn!
Then we have the evening fireworks, which we really do up right. I especially like the ones that make my chest rattle, the more deafening the better! And, again, tearing up for the ones that go with "I'm Proud to Be an American" because, well, I AM proud to be an American.
But I have a little struggle when it comes to patriotic displays in church.
I know many people will disagree with me on this one, especially the members of the Greatest Generation. While there is certainly a place for hymns like "Eternal Father, Strong to Save", "God of Our Fathers", and "America the Beautiful", because they are prayers for our nation and recognition of God's Sovereignty, there seems to be a struggle to keep the worship service a worship service and not a nationalistic program such as one might see on the Washington, D.C. mall. Planning for this service is a delicate operation! I don't think it is the place for a color guard presentation, for instance. Some one usually wants that. I don't think we need red, white and blue decorations. The Sanctuary is very pretty as is, and we might forget to look at the Cross.
Thanks for freedom of worship, humble prayers for safety, peace, wisdom for leaders, openness to God's leading as we lead our lives as citizens-these are what I think are most appropriate for Christian citizens to offer to God on the Sunday closest to July 4th. If a foreign student is in attendance, this is what I dream they would see. I think they would feel nothing but admiration for Americans, and respect for the system that allows us to honor God this way.
Have a fun, safe, blessed Independence Day!