I've never been a fan of patriotic church services. I'm a nine-year Army vet, so I don't have a problem with patriotic stuff in general, just patriotic church services.
Don't get me wrong. I love my country. I can't imagine wanting to live somewhere else, even during an election cycle. But it seems like church and the flag are strange bedfellows. There's something about turning the other cheek and loving your enemies and making disciples of all nations that seems to stand in the face of nationalism.
So you will never see videos of flying jets and rolling tanks and waving flags and marching ranks of soldiers at The Anchor. However, I have no problem with honoring soldiers. I'm fine with recognizing the vets around Veteran's Day, and I don't mind honoring my fallen comrades on Memorial Day. These days are not about glorifying war or conflict or even soldiering - they are about remembering.
And perhaps the most Christian response to war would be to memorialize it. How does the saying go? Forget your past and you're doomed to repeat it, right? Maybe the best thing we can do, as Christians, regarding war, is to remember it. Remember those who fought. Remember those who died. Remember why we went, what we did, and what it accomplished. And then vow to never go to that same place again.
So this year, as you're enjoying your long weekend, flipping burgers and maybe getting in eighteen holes, remember that, in order for you to have the freedom to enjoy this land and this day, someone - many someones - had to give their lives. Don't let it get you down. Don't let it spoil your fun. But don't forget.
Series Title: BLESSED
Message Title: mourners
Main Passages: Matthew 5:4, Romans 12:15, Lamentations
Some questions for reflection or group study (or please comment on them, below):
- How do you think patriotism and Christianity interact?
- Why might someone struggle with pledging allegiance to both Jesus and the flag?
- Remembering is a big deal to the church. Do you know any examples of this?
- So is forgiveness. How can remembering get in the way of forgiving?