Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dreading the coming Sunday

Ooookay, I may draw a buncha flak for this one, but I need to say it, if only for the sake of my own sanity:

I don't wanna do what I gotta do this Sunday!

At least I get the following Sunday off for vacation. Did those colors give you a clue as to what's on my plate? Yep. It's "Let's all confuse the flag with the cross because it's a patriotic holiday weekend" Sunday, aka the Fourth of July Two Days Early.

As in, all four verses of the National Anthem. I'm not kidding. In addition to all "patriotic hymns" during the worship service proper. And I suspect, though I don't know for certain, that we're in for a repeat of the lecture-in-place-of-proclamation-of-the-Word, which we first experienced on Memorial Day weekend a few short weeks back. The pastor received rousing applause for what passed for the sermon that weekend. It was all about the need to watch terrorists' recordings of beheadings and hyper-violent patriotic movies, stop watching network news, and follow even obscure political/government "real" news closely so as to be godly,informed citizens who are grateful for the freedom our fallen heroes bought for us. It was about how we need to be proud that the U.S. is a Christian nation and be sure we do all we can to keep it a Christian nation. After hearing this sermon twice before noon, I was vaguely ill...and still starved for a word from the Lord. (Fortunately, one need not rely on one's pastor as the only source for spiritual food.)

That's not how it usually is in our little corner of Christendom. Honest. Maybe that's why it's so hard to swallow the patriotism masquerading as worship when that's the planned, deliberate focus.

Now lest anyone think I'm a merely soft pinko desecrating the memory of those who have given their lives in service to their country, I cherish the gift of my freedom as an American citizen. I love my country and cannot imagine pledging allegiance to any other. I gave seven years of my life in active military service, three of those years in combat divisions. I happened to be blessed to have served during a relatively long period of peacetime, so in some eyes that means I don't have the right to comment. But I'm an American citizen, one who took the oath of service regardless of what conflict I might have faced. I *do* have the right to speak out. And I believe I have the right, and the responsibility as a citizen of the Reign of Almighty God, to call it as I see it when anything less than the Sovereign of all Creation is worshiped in place of God.

The trouble is, how does one relate such an observation when the ears are itching for more patrio-worship? I'm praying about that, despite the deliberately farcical style with which I began this post. I'm praying very hard, as a matter of fact. I love my friend and pastor dearly. I love my church. But on this score, I'm solidly at odds with what I perceive to be the large majority of my brothers and sisters in the congregation, and I am their music minister. I am the one who must lead them in the singing that I find highly inappropriate for Christian worship. So far, the answer seems to be to submit to my pastor in this matter. I do think I owe her the honesty of giving her a "minority opinion," so that she has at least heard she could be wrong in taking this direction.

And I admit that I should be willing to be persuaded that I am wrong as well. Any so inclined are invited to pray for me, for my church, and for all churches who face this kind of conflict on these kinds of occasions.


D. P. said...

I hear ya, Psalmist!

Mixing patriotism with Christianity (and I labor under the illusion that I am both a patriot and a Christian) just produces an unpalatable goo that gives me heartburn.

On days like you're describing, I REALLY envy the Catholics and Orthodox, who would never put up with such silliness. (... and don't even have American flags displayed in the sanctuary!)

Psalmist said...

Thanks, D.P. This heartburn isn't the "heart warming" experience John Wesley described, that's for sure.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

I know well the emotions in a congregation that want not only the flag (which we have after a big to-do) and also the patriotic music and words.

There has to be some kind of education about this being the worship of God and that the country stuff (any country) should be lower than God.

I really pitty the next pastor of that church who wants to change things!

LutheranChik said...

I'm with you too, Psalmist.

There are certain "patriotic" songs I absolutely refuse to participate in in church, even if I'm the only person standing there not singing. I wish people would stop the stupid, nationalistic flag-waving in God's house.

SingingOwl said...

I'm with you too. We will not be singing patriotic songs. My DH is preaching and he is going to talk about being a soldier (he was a Marine) but it will very quickly become a sermon about the army that counts, and the warfare that counts.

I do have flags, but I refuse to put them in the sanctuary. They are in the entryway, which is okay with me.

SingingOwl said...

Chedck this out.