I can’t have a “Happy 4th.” I just can’t. I can’t pledge allegiance to that flag, I can’t stand for the national anthem, and I sure as hell won’t be singing “God Bless America.” I can’t bow down to this new religion of Patriotism that would have us believe Baby Jesus lay in that manger wrapped in the good ol’ red, white, and blue.
I want my country back. I want the country I was taught about in grade school. The one that had learned from its mistakes and come to realize the value of every human. The one where everyone had a chance, hope, and a voice.
Oh, I know the America of my grade-school education was a mythical place, whitewashed in every sense of the word. But it gave us something to live up to. It reminded us of how things ought to be. It told us we had principles to live by, dignity and grace to walk in as we took the high road. It inspired Lady Liberty, and gratitude and loyalty around the globe.
I want to go back to the days when I would never believe that people I know and love would willingly sacrifice others’ good for their own (supposed) gain. When I thought that a cry for a Christian country meant a desire for one that was Christ-like. When civics was civilized. When we walked softly, and tried not to use the big stick. When public servants served the public.
So today I will have a mournful Fourth of July.
Today I will remember these words from Ezekiel:
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
“See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood…they have oppressed the foreigner and mistreated the fatherless and the widow…In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord. “‘I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood you have shed in your midst. Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the day I deal with you?”
And these from Matthew:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’”
Today I will remember Nineveh. Today I will pray for repentance.