Christianity and Patriotism
June is bustin' out all over! The corn top's high as an elephant's eye. Well, one can always hope. Graduations, vacations, weddings. It's what June is all about. But it's not about national holidays, although it is bracketed by two patriotic days of celebration. Memorial Day is at the end of May and Independence Day is the beginning of July. Memorial Day honors our fallen soldiers and Independence Day celebrates our birth as a nation. So what about Christians and patriotism?
it comes to flag waving, Christians don't take a back seat to anyone. Along with Lee Greenwood, we're proud to be an American. Patriotism is basically this: a love of country that makes you feel good when you hear your national anthem and realize how blessed you are to be an American. It's a genuine gratitude for freedom, or democracy, or culture, or any of the other values people around the world treasure in their own nation.
Patriotism should not be confused with nationalism, which can take love of country to an extreme. This often comes at the expense of other nations. Nazi Germany is perhaps the best example of a nationalistic fervor which had disastrous consequences.
Nor does love of country mean love of government. We celebrate our democracy and our freedom but that doesn't mean that we love everything the government does. In his book, The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis notes that love of country "becomes a demon when it becomes a god." For Jesus, love of country meant obedience to God. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Matthew 23:37-39.
Note that Jesus is addressing the people, not the government. A government, despite all its power and might, cannot replace God. Nor can other idols such as money, sex, work, food, drink, etc. These objects, including the government, are gifts from God, for which we should rightfully be thankful.
Jesus is telling the people that until they are willing to obey God, their house (nation) will be in trouble.
Obedience to God begins with understanding His will. We must first seek it. "Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7.7. It has been said that none of us has ever been able to change Bible doctrine, but Bible doctrine can surely change us. And it can change a nation.
From the Pastor
Greetings Church Family and Friends! May I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your calls, cards, emails, visits, delicious food, and most importantly your prayers during the past 5 months since I first broke my foot. And, now that I have finally had surgery to correct the problem, you have faithfully continued with your kindnesses in many ways. I appreciate each and every gesture of loving concern.
Rev. Kermit Shrawder
so graciously stepped in to continue with worship services at New Hope while I recuperate from surgery. He has truly been a blessing to New Hope as he enthusiastically embraced all aspects of our church missions, bringing guidance and prayerful consideration to those who have been in need of spiritual comfort. We are mindful that he was serving two other congregations during this time. He attended to our needs which included a visit to a member during his surgery.
And, Rev. Shrawder will lead our Singing Service on June 26th! We are truly blessed with his ministry!
Our weekly Bible Study
has continued its study of the life of David from 1st and 2nd Samuel. That series will conclude June 9, followed by a short break. The next Bible Study will concentrate on the life, influence, political and religious leadership as the “Father” of three religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) of Abraham. If you've been considering joining a group Bible study, this would be an excellent time to jump in. Thursday evenings from 6-7 pm.
This summer offers many opportunities for worship through Sunday morning services, Bible Study, supporting our Food Pantry, supporting Habitat for Humanity through providing water for volunteers and new Bibles for the families. You can check out our library – perhaps even donating appropriate books for a church library, visiting the sick, participating in the beginning of our Library/History Room. You can stay updated through our website:www.newhoperowesville.org
, on these and and other activities.
On June 26 we will have a Singing/Scripture Service
with a Patriotic theme, for the upcoming celebration of our country’s freedom. We cordially invite all who receive this newsletter to be in worship and fellowship with us as we will have a delicious meal prepared by Tom Jennings following our morning worship service. If you plan to attend, please contact me at: email@example.com
, 803-829-3252 or 803-664-3624 by Sunday, June 19th in order to provide an accurate count for our caterer.
On July 31
we will welcome choir members from Buncombe Street UMC
, Greenville, SC who will present a Singing Service at New Hope, followed by a dinner at the Community Center. Buncombe Street has taken an active interest in assisting New Hope with the stained glass window project. Deltails will follow on the website and July newsletter.
May God Continue to Bless You!
Sandra E. Whetsell