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Word for the day


Celebrating and worshipping

We celebrate Independence Day this week. Like many pastors, I feel the tension between celebrating our country and worshipping our country. We want to maintain that boundary carefully. Yet, there are some things we can say and do from a Christian perspective.

First, we can and should celebrate that we live in a country with more freedom, prosperity, and opportunities than any other time and place in human history. I recently spent a few days in Eastern Europe. All around are reminders of the devastating effects of communist totalitarian dictatorships. We are blessed. We have never dealt with ethnic cleansing, large-scale oppression, forced redistribution of wealth, or many other realities of life in other parts of the world. We are free to celebrate our faith. We should give thanks that we have been so blessed.

At the same time, we can also be critical of the ways in which our country and culture fall short of the Kingdom of God. We can love our nation and still hope, pray, and call for more. That is not disrespectful of all who sacrificed for our nation. We are not perfect. We could be better. As Christians, we should call for our culture and government to live up to its lofty ideals.

Finally, we should recognize that while we are so blessed to live where we live, we still have a great deal to learn from the rest of the world. The Kingdom of God is not American. We are not the culmination of holiness. The Bible was not written in English. We are blessed with freedom and material wealth the other churches of the world lack. Yet because we have never faced the difficulties other Christians have faced, we lack some of their spiritual wealth. We lack the prayer life of many Korean Christians, or the persistence of Coptic Christians. We won’t go to worship when it’s not nice out, and African Christians gather in any weather around a tree to worship every week. In the Kingdom of God, we will be together. We have much to learn from each other.

So celebrate our country and our blessings. Yet, while we celebrate, let us learn from the rest of the world. Let us advocate for our nation to be better. Let us prepare for the Kingdom, where there is no Jew or Greek, American or Slovak, but all Christians worshipping God.


Rev. Dr. Jonathan Hanover is pastor at Kenton First Methodist Church.

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