Source: Danna Faulds, Breath of Joy, (2013, Peaceable Kingdom Books, Greenville VA).
Come on Sunday for a chance to sing more patriotic songs than I am usually in the habit of including in Sunday worship as we celebrate Independence Day. I often worry that patriotism becomes shorthand for “my country, right or wrong,” but it doesn’t have to. The United States invites people of all faiths to pray as they will, and work to realize their understanding of how God wants our nation to behave.
Relations between God and Israel were a constant source of tension and promise in Hebrew Scriptures, in Jesus’ time, and in the early church. To quote Micah, “what does the Lord require, but to do justice, love mercy, and humbly walk with God?” Or Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with heart and soul and mind, and your neighbor as your self.” Who is your neighbor? Everyone, especially “the least of these,” those most vulnerable at any particular time.
I celebrate our nation when its laws, policies, and practices uphold these principles; I work respectfully to improve those laws and policies that seem to contradict them. I pray frequently for more justice, more mercy, and more inclusion of the vulnerable outsider. And I try to remember that I may not have the whole picture, either of our nation’s history or present, and certainly not of what God may have in mind. Here are some prayers from our Book of Common Prayer that may be useful this weekend.