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, 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.
This is my prayer, O God of all earth’s kingdoms,
your kingdom come; on earth your will be done.
O God, be lifted up till all shall serve you,
and hearts united learn to live as one.
So hear my prayer, O God of all the nations;
myself I give you; let your will be done.
Words by Lloyd Stone sts 1-2 and Georgia Harkness st. 3
from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, National Songs, #887
Happy Fourth of July! On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from England, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Henceforth the United States of America has celebrated the Fourth of July as our Independence Day. It is a day that family and friends gather for picnics, backyard cookouts, fireworks, all in celebration of our becoming an independent country. Although, this year’s celebrations will be drastically curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people all around our nation will still find ways to safely celebrate our nation’s birth.
“God Bless America” is a common phrase used on the Fourth of July as well as throughout the year. I support this sentiment in that I do desire for God to bless our country. However, as a child of the God who created the entire planet and all of its citizens, I cannot expect that God will bless only my country. That is why the hymn “This is My Song” has always been my choice when I think of singing a ‘national anthem’ to the United States of America. In our ELW it is the first hymn in the section ‘National Songs’. It speaks to the love we have for our own country and the beauty of the United States of America. Yet it also recognizes that the United States of America is only one of the 193 countries in this great big world of ours. It lifts up that other countries are just as beautiful, just as precious in the eyes of God, as ours is.
As Christians we pray weekly “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven” during our praying of The Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer we recognize that the whole Earth belongs to God and that when God’s kingdom is fully present here, it will encompass the entire planet, not just our own country. When I think of my citizenship I think in layers. I belong to God and God’s kingdom. I am a citizen of the planet Earth. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am a citizen of the State of Idaho. And, if you know anything about Texans you will know that we also have to say, and I am a native Texan.
We all share these layers of citizenship. I am thankful to be a part of each and every one of them. So, on this day, the fourth day of July, I raise my voice with millions of others to say “God, bless the United States of America and all of today”.
Let us pray...
“Lord of all the world, guide this nation by your Spirit to go forward in justice and freedom. Give to all our people the blessings of well-being and harmony, but above all things give us faith in you, that our nation may bring glory to your name and blessings to all peoples, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.” Amen
Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship
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Thanks, Barb, for pointing out this hymn. As I was reading it, I found myself wondering who wrote it and where did it come from? Alas, it is in our ELW. I am a little embarrassed to admit that in 41+ years as a parish pastor, I never once remember choosing this hymn to sing in Sunday worship. My and the congregations’ loss. The text is powerful and so desperately needed in these troubling days, especially vs. 3. I have to admit to a lack of personal enthusiasm for “Independence Day” this year. Maybe it is because I have been reading books like TROUBLE I’VE SEEN by Drew Hart, REVIVE US AGAIN by William J, Barber II, DEAR CHURCH by Lenny Duncan, JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson, and THE NEW JIM CROW by Michelle Alexander. The only folks who were free back in 1776 were white European males–certainly not our red-skinned and black skinned brothers and sisters. Women, even of European descent, were not allowed to vote until the 1920’s. We imprisoned our yellow-skinned citizens during WW II. We have closed our borders to our brown-skinned relatives to the south. I guess I have always known those facts, but they are hitting home a little harder and clearer this year. I am feeling those facts a little more this year.
And that is not a bad thing. I will just pray harder that phrase in vs. 3 of the hymn above– “O God, be lifted up till ALL (emphasis added) shall serve you, and hearts united learn to live as one.” God bless all 193 nations of the world and those within those nations who are not yet free!!